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THE PROCESS OF THE POLITICIZATION OF THE KURDISH

IDENTITY IN TURKEY: THE KURDS AND THE TURKISH LABOR PARTY


(1961-1971)

by

Ahmet Al

Submitted to
the Atatrk Institute for Modern Turkish History
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Master of Arts

BOAZ UNIVERSITY

2009
The Process of the Politicization of the Kurdish Identity in Turkey: the Kurds and
the Turkish Labor Party (19611971)a thesis prepared by Ahmet Al in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree at the Atatrk Institute
for Modern Turkish History of Boazii University.

This thesis has been approved

Assoc. Prof. Duygu Kksal ____________________________


(Thesis Advisor)

Prof. Aye Bura ____________________________

Assoc. Prof. M. Asm Karamerliolu ____________________________

by the Atatrk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Boazii University on


1 September 2009

ii
An abstract of the Thesis of Ahmet Al for the degree of Master of Arts from the
Ataturk Institute for Modern Turkish History of Boazii University to be
taken in September 2009

Title: The Process of the Politicization of the Kurdish Identity in Turkey: the Kurds
and the Turkish Labor Party (19611971)

This thesis examines a much-misunderstood period of mobilization and politicization


of Kurds in Turkey, a period that has often been assumed to have been an era of
revival for Kurdish nationalism. It rejects the idea of revival of Kurdish nationalism
during the 1960s. It postulates that what happened during this period can be seen only
as formative years for the next generation of Kurdish nationalist who inherited so
much from the interaction between Kurdish ethnicity and socialist terminology of
those years. It examines the role and impact of new generation of Kurdish
intellectuals on the politicization of the Kurdish identity in the 1960s and the
affiliation between the Turkish Labor Party and Kurdish political entrepreneurs
between 1960 and 1971.

One of the main points is to examine the relationship between Kurdish nationalism
(or Kurdish ethnic awareness) and Turkish Socialism. In addition to the TLPs
documents and publications, several publications from the time and interviews with
former Kurdish activists were used in the preparation of this thesis. Theoretically, it is
based on the concept of an ethnoregional movement which is an amalgamation of
ethnic and economic demands, and most of the time attracts relatively a young
generation of intellectuals of ethnic minority groups who do not have the same
resources as their counterparts and who strive to find new channels to obtain them.
Finally, it asserts that the shift from the Eastern Question, which was regarded as
an issue of economic backwardness and that would be swept away once socialism
came to power, to the Kurdish Question, which drew attention mainly to ethnic
reasons for the economic backwardness of the East and Southeast regions of Turkey,
was a result of the closed doors of the Turkish political system and intra-TLP
conflicts as well as intra-Kurdish elite conflicts.

iii
Boazii niversitesi Atatrk lkeleri ve nklap Tarihi Enstitsnde Yksek Lisans
derecesi iin Ahmet Al tarafndan Eyll 2009da teslim edilen tezin ksa zeti

Balk: Krt Kimliinin Trkiyedeki Politikleme Sreci: Krtler ve Trkiye i


Partisi (19611971)

Bu tez, Krtlerin mobilizasyonunda ve politiklemesi srecinde yanl anlatlagelmi


ve Krt milliyetiliinin yeniden dirilmesi olarak kabul edilen bir zaman aralna
k tutmak iin yaplan bir teebbstr. Krt milliyetiliinin yeniden canlanmas
fikrini reddedip, altmlarda cereyan eden eyin ancak o yllarda Krt etnisitesi ile
sosyalist terminoloji arasndaki etkileimden ok fazla miras alan bir sonraki Krt
milliyeti kuann biimlendirici yllar olarak grlebileceini iddia etmektedir.
Trkiye i Partisi ile Krt siyaset giriimcilerinin 1961 ile 1971 arasndaki
yaknlamas dikkatle incelenmekte, temel ilgi Krt milliyetilii ile Trk sosyalizmi
arasndaki etkileime verilmektedir. Trkiye i Partisi belge ve yaynlarna ek
olarak, dnemle ilgili deiik yaynlar, bu harekette yer alm kiilerle yaplan
mlakatlar bu tezin hazrlanmasnda kullanlmtr. Teorik adan, etnik ve iktisadi
taleplerin bir karm olan ve genelde etnik gruplarn, akranlar gibi benzer
kaynaklara sahip olmayan, bunlar elde etmek iin yeni kanallar iin abalayan,
nispeten gen entelektellerini cezbeden etno-blgesel hareketlere dayanmaktadr.
Son olarak, iktisadi bir gerikalmlk sorunu olarak grlen ve sosyalizmin baa
gemesiyle silinip gidecei iddia edilen Dou Sorunundan, Trkiyenin Dou ve
Gneydou blgelerindeki bu iktisadi gerikalmln etnik nedenlerine ana ilgiyi
eken Krt Sorununa geiin Trkiyenin yasal sisteminin kapal olmas ile Trkiye
i Partisi ii atmalarn ve Krt mnevverleri arasndaki uyumazlklarn bir
neticesi olduunu iddia etmektedir.

iv
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First of all, I would like to thank my parents, my father Hsn Al and my


mother kriye (Uygur) Al, who have always been my real friends and have
indulged me in my own decisions throughout my life. Both of them are (actually used
to be) illiterate and do not speak any language but Kurdish. I still cannot understand
how they got the idea of sending us to school and supporting us at any rate while they
were suffering. No word can express my gratitude to them. My brothers iyar,
xmus, brahim and Weysel Al and my sisters Perixan, Filiz, Felek, Melek, Tuba
and Hilal Al also deserve special thanks.
I owe special thanks to Assoc. Prof. Duygu Kksal, my thesis adviser. She
supported me for almost two years. Each time I went to her office, I was relieved and
encouraged. I would also like to thank Assoc. Prof. M. Asm Karamerliolu for his
guidance and advice throughout the thesis year and for his presence on my jury. I
want to thank Prof. Aye Bura both for her presence on my jury and for her valuable
comments. I would like to thank Tracy Lord for her support and stimulating
questions. I want to thank Kathryn Kranzler for editing my thesis.
I am grateful to Dr. Ycel Demirer, my professor and mentor, who
encouraged me to apply to the Ataturk Institute. He has always been ready when I
need his help and guidance. I would like to thank Ahmet Kuya, from whom I learned
much. I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Taha Parla and Assist. Prof. smal Kaplan for
sharing their thoughts and knowledge with me.
I would also like to thank Blent Erdem from TSTAV for letting me use
their archives and providing me so many materials. I would like to thank all of the
people who shared their memories with me. I want to thank Delal Aydn and Azad
Zana Gndoan who kindly shared their interviews with me.
I am also grateful to TBITAK for their generous financial support which
made this stressful process bearable.
My friends Zack Barnett- Howell and Djene Bajalan have been very supportive
since I first met them. They deserve special thanks. I also thank my friends Bahadr
(Uur) Bayraktar, Aygul zdemir and Sevecen Tun. I would like to thank all of the
people who helped me and shared their experiences and documents with me again.
Poreva min is the person whose support has kept me strong for a long time, I thank
her.

v
"This work is dedicated to those who have been tortured and killed anywhere
in the world for having different political views from their torturers."

vi
CONTENTS

Preface

I. INTRODUCTION: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND: ETHNOREGIONAL


MOVEMENTS VS. NATION-STATES NATIONALISM1
Literature Survey...1
Ethnoregional Movements.14
Nation-States and Ethnoregional Movements29
Political Parties, the Left and Ethnoregional Movements..36

II. A POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND FOR THE KURDISH


ETHNOREGIONAL MOVEMENT.41
The Kurds and Their Aspiration: A Historical Background41
The Multi-Party Era.52
The End of a New Beginning: The Event of the 49s in 1959.....56
The Military Coup dtat and the Politics: Tutelage Democracy..59
What is Krtlk?..........................................................................................65

III. THE KURDISH ETHNOREGIONAL MOVEMENT AND THE PROCESS OF


THE POLITICIZATION OF THE KURDISH IDENTITY IN THE 1960S....68
Kurdish Students; the Role of Student Dormitories....68
The Reemergence of Kurdish Literature and Historiography..72
The Source of the Kurdish Ethnoregional Movement in the 1960s.82
The first Phase of the Politicization of Kurdish Ethnicity...85
Turkish Socialism in the 1960s....89
The Affiliation between Kurds and the Leftists or the Second Phase of
Politicization of Kurdish Ethnicity..95

IV. THE TURKISH LABOR PARTY AND THE KURDS; THE DOU
MESELESI 1961-1971..99
The Turkish Labor Party..99
Formation of the Party Identity..103
Intra-Party Conflicts and the Party Congresses; an End to Discussions109
Easterners, the Turkish Labor Party, and the Eastern Question112
The Turkish Labor Party and the Formation of Dou Meselesi....117
The Elections, the Turkish Labor Party and the Region....123
From The Eastern Meetings to the DDKO (Revolutionary Eastern Cultural
Hearths) or the End of the TLP..135

V. CONCLUSION: RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE.145


APPENDICES...155
BIBLIOGRAPHY..160

vii
Tables

1. Minority-Group Objectives.27
2. Regional Distribution of Turkish Labor Party's Members115
3. Result of the General Election of Representatives 1961-1969..124
4. Turkish Labor Partys Votes in the Fifteen Provinces...128
5. Results of the Election of Provincial General Council Members
and the senate.....155
6. Results of the General Elections of Representatives in Three Big Cities
(1961-1969)...155
7. Results of the General Elections of Representatives in Fifteen Provinces,
(1961-1969 ).....156
8. The Turkish Labor Partys Votes by Province......157

Figures

1. Ethnoregional Movements22
2. Nation-States and Ethnoregional Demands..32
3. The Source of the Kurdish Ethnoregional Movement in the 1960s.....82
4. Composition of the Turkish Labor Party102
5. The Parties' Votes in the Fifteen Provinces in the East and Southeast...125
6. The Family Tree of The Kurdish Movement (1945-1980).159

viii
PREFACE

This thesis examines the politicization and ethnicization of the Kurdish

identity in Turkey. First of all, this is an attempt to clarify exactly how it happened.

For anyone acquainted with the subject, the very first explanation is that Kurds are

Kurds, and they have been so from the beginning of their existence. Furthermore, the

Kurdish movement has always been viewed internally as a struggle against

oppression, as is often the case in many nationalist movements. Yet the questions

remain why so many have struggled for the good of an unborn nation. And

specifically why has the greatest effort been made by intellectuals, those who are

relatively well-off? Why have the ordinary people, peasants and proletariat, been

absent from this movement? Moreover, how can such a narrow movement have

become so factionalized and polarized by internal struggles?

The answer to these questions also account for the politicization of the

Kurdish identity too. Although there are quite sophisticated answers outside the limits

of contemporary political science and history, i.e., human nature, the theory of

evolution, etc. which basically argue that reciprocity and expectation of future

benefits are the reasons for it, this thesis seeks to answer these questions by

scrutinizing the political history of the leading cadres of the Kurdish movement and

the affiliation with the Socialist movement in the 1960s.

One of the first explanations is related to the changing and declining living

standards and loss of influence that Kurdish intellectuals and notables had in society

following the 1960s. A small minority of Kurds were able to strengthen their power

by allying with the central authorities. This power came at the cost of maintaining the

status quo in regions with large Kurdish populations. As a result, when a more

ix
radical generation of Kurdish students emerged during the 1950s, their greatest

opposition was found in the entrenched interests of the established Kurdish leaders.

This new generation of Kurdish intellectuals was forced to find new channels from

which to acquire power and influence. Following the military coup in 1960, junior

Kurdish intellectuals did not have access to the same resources that their predecessors

had. This pre-coup generation is called the 58ler (58ers, who held leading positions

in the political movements in the late 1950s and during the 1960s). Although the

second generation of Kurdish intellectuals was highly influenced by the work and

struggle of the 58ers cohort, by the late 1960s they would adopt a new course of

action. This second wave is termed the 68ler (68ers), eventually followed by the

78ler (78ers), which was even more radical than the two waves preceding it. These

generations came into extreme conflict with one another over the proper ideology and

path to national liberation.

These three waves of Kurdish activists grew up in markedly different material

circumstances. Principally, the 58ers enjoyed a much higher degree of wealth and

social prestige than the 68 and 78ers, who were drawn from much poorer segments of

society. There is the example of Musa Anter, who was assassinated in 1992 and had

been an indefatigable contributor to Kurdish culture, and for whom many Kurds had

great respect. His memoirs capture the changing features of Kurdish intellectuals and

elites in the 1950s and 60s. At the beginning of his memoirs he wrote,

Recaizade Ercument Ekrem Talu describes and introduces the place where he
was born and his family home as such; the Marmara region is the most
civilized region in Turkey; Istanbul is the most beautiful city in the region of
Marmara; the Bosphorus is the most elegant neighborhood of Istanbul; Saryer
is the most lovely district in Istanbul; Yen McHale is the most distinguished
quarter of the Saryer and the mansion of the Recaizades is the most
wonderful mansion in Yeni Mahalle. .. .here is where I was born.

x
Of course, Anter writes, he was Recaizade Ekrems son. Now, let us look at

me:

Kurdistan is the most backward region in Turkey; Mardin is the most


backward province in Kurdistan; Nusaybin is the most distressed district in
Mardin; Stilile (Akarsu) is the poorest rural community in Nusaybin; Zivinge
(Eski Magara) is the most backward village in Akarsu, and here I, according
to state register of persons, was born in Cave Number 2 of this village.1

If one does not read the rest of the book his story seems very sad. Anter also

mentions that the tribe he belonged to consisted of approximately 2025 villages and

he had as much as 1000 donum of land, and other properties and was the son of a

landowner and got married to a prominent sheiks daughter. During his election

campaign in 1965, he mentioned that his relatives had presented a jeep to him, an

extraordinary luxury at the time. 2 Anters approach epitomizes the split in Kurdish

thinking at the time. Although this generation enjoyed a high level of material

wealth, they still claimed to be part of the poorest of the poor. In their minds,

compared to the extremely wealthy Turkish elites they were still poor.

When I was studying in the TSTAVs archives, I came across a picture of

Mehmet Ali Aybar, studying in his villa in Kuzguncuk. I also came across some

stories about the village of kevta (which literally means cavernous) in Batman.

Aybar and socialists and Kurdish intellectuals often condemned the fact that people

were still living in such conditions and declared that socialism would improve their

1
Recaizade Ercment Ekrem Talu, yaantsn anlatrken doum yeri ve baba ocan
yle tantr; Marmara Blgesi Trkiyenin en uygar blgesidir; stanbul, Marmarann en
gzel ehridir; Boazii, stanbulun en latif semtidir. Saryer, stanbulun en irin
kazasdr. Yeni Mahalle Saryerin en stn mahallesidir ve Recaizadelerin kk Yeni
mahallenin en harika kkdr te ben burada dodum.
Tabii, O, Recaizade Ekremin olu idi. imdi bir de bana bakalm:
Krdistan, Trkiyenin en geri blgesidir; Mardin, Krdistann en geri ilidir; Nusaybin,
Mardinin en dertli ilesidir; Stilil (Akarsu), Nusaybinin en fakir nahiyesidir; Ziving
(Eski Maara), Stililnin en geri kalm kydr ve ite ben, bu kyn, nfus ktne
gre, 2 numaral maarasnda domuum. Musa Anter, Hatiralarim 1-2 (stanbul: Avesta,
1999) p.17.
2
Ibid., p.214.

xi
livelihoods. A crucial difference between the pioneering 58ers and the following

68ers is their backgrounds. Both Kurdish and Turkish students and intellectuals came

into conflict with their predecessors over the solution to the poverty and ethnic

divisions in Turkey. The 58ers took a more moderate approach to societal change

while the 68ers, who came from poorer backgrounds and in a great uncertainty about

their futures, were radical in regards to their demand for immediate social and

economic revolution.

Overall, this thesis, which comprises five main chapters including a

conclusion endeavors to understand the political history of the 1958 and 1968

generations in general and the affiliation between Kurdish intellectuals and the

Turkish Labor Party (TLP) in particular and the way they transformed Kurdish

identity. It is far beyond the scope of this study to elaborate on all actors and the

matters; this thesis instead is focused on the leading cadre of Kurdish intellectuals

who both reconstituted the politics in the East and Southeast regions and changed the

meaning of the Kurdish identity by adding a new terminology during the1960s.

The first chapter starts with a literature survey and argues that the process of

the politicization of the Kurdish identity cannot wholly be explained by both the

nationalist and historicist approach. Therefore, an alternative approach is used to take

the Kurdish movement out of its contentious political and historical context and view

it as an ethnoregional movement. The crucial difference between seeing the Kurdish

movement as an ethnoregional and nationalist one is to distance what was really a

struggle to improve the material and cultural conditions in the region from attempts to

paint this period as a struggle for national independence.

While the Kurdish ethnoregional movement of the 1950s to 1960s did not

display a high degree of Kurdish separatism, the historical record strongly indicates

xii
that the aims of both generations were to improve the lives of Kurds inside of Turkey

and to fully integrate themselves into Turkish society and the political system. Since

then the Kurdish movement has become far more nationalist than socialist in

character and much of the work and writings of the past generation have been co-

opted to this end. I will attempt to separate fact from fiction in this regard and

definitively examine the true aims and goals of the Kurdish movement and leaders at

the time.

In the second chapter, I provide a historical background of what is called

Kurdish nationalism and the transformation of Turkeys social and political life.

Then, I elaborate more on political change in the late 1950s and 1960s regarding

Kurds. The second chapter also includes a discussion of the infamous arrest of 49

prominent Kurds and the banning of periodicals and journals published by Kurds in

the 1960s.

In the third chapter, I examine the Kurdish ethnoregional movement, which

blended Kurdish ethnicity and language with developmentalism and was used in an

attempt to garner popular support by the TLP. This attempt to fuse economic

development with cultural pride was not specific to Turkey, but also can be viewed

occurring simultaneously in Europe.

For this study, I used several interviews with the most prominent figures of

the Kurdish movement, including Mehmet Ali Aslan, Tark Ziya Ekinci, Mehdi Zana,

and mer An. Journals and dailies published by the Kurds during the 1960s such as

Dicle-Frat, Deng, Yeni Ak, as well as mainstream Turkish newspapers and

periodicals such as Cumhuriyet and Yn were used in this thesis. Memoirs play an

important role in this study (almost all of Kurdish activists have written memoirs), as

well as a literature survey of a wide range of secondary sources related to the Kurds

xiii
and the Turkish Left in Kurdish, Turkish and English languages. The Turkish Labor

Party (TLP) is an important unit of analysis, and so the party programmes, statutes

and publications were collected from the archive of TSTAV (Trkiye Sosyal Tarih

Aratrma Vakf) and fully analyzed. Finally, the statistical data used in this study was

collected from Devlet statistik Kurumus (State Statistical Institute) publications.

According to my theoretical conceptualization, the Kurdish ethnoregional

movement during the 1960s was created not by one single actor, but existed as a

dynamic process espoused by many people and factions at the time. The main actors

were the New Turkey Party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Turkey (clandestine

Kurdish nationalist party, founded in 1965, TKDP), the Kurdistan Democratic Party

in Turkey (clandestine party, Tde KDP), the TLP, Kurdish students in general and

the Revolutionary Eastern Cultural Hearths (DDKO in its Turkish acronym). The

third chapter ends with a final analysis of the three most prominent Kurdish actors of

this period, the NTP, the TKDP, and the T de KDP.

The fourth chapter, which constitutes the bulk of this study, deals with the

TLP and the Kurdish socialist or Doulu (Easterners). This chapter scrutinizes the

affiliation between Turkish socialist and Kurdish groups. It reveals how this

affiliation was constructed and how it changed the politics in the south and southeast

of Turkey. By focusing on the election results at the regional level, and the

demonstrated support by the constituency there, it gives a detailed analysis of the

political experience of the TLP and its militants in the region.

The fourth chapter also brings our attention to the conflict that occurred

between the different Kurdish groups in an attempt to strengthen their own positions

at the expense of those of the other groups. In addition to analyzing the elections, this

chapter also goes on to look at the Eastern Meetings, massive protests that were

xiv
organized and directed by the TLP and the TKDP militants. The DDKOs, which

served as the umbrella organization under which disaffected Kurdish students

gathered across the country, proved to have the greatest affect on the ethnoregional

Kurdish movement. Unlike the TLP and other 58ers, who viewed the Kurdish

question primarily as an economic one, the DDKOs were instrumental in

transforming this question into an ethnic and nationalist one. The final chapter

concludes my arguments and makes some comments on the similarity between the

1960s and the contemporary situation in terms of party politics in the region.

xv
CHAPTER ONE

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND: ETHNOREGIONAL MOVEMENTS VS.


NATION-STATES NATIONALISM

The first part of this chapter focuses on the existing literature and analyzes

how authors approach the subject of this thesis, the Kurdish movement and the

affiliation between the Turkish Labor Party (1961-1971) and Kurdish intellectuals.

After doing that, the theory of nationalism and the ethnoregional movement, which

employed as the theoretical approach, will be scrutinized.

Literature Survey

The Kurdish movement in Turkey has been analyzed in the context of

nationalism and regarded as a reaction to the dominant Turkish nationalism. There are

numerous studies which tend to portray Kurdish movement as a continuous process

the aim of which has been to obtain independence or separation from the Turkish

Republic. These studies generally do not give any weight to the particular activities of

the Kurds in Turkey in the 1960s. Rather, they either focus on the single-party era

rebellions or on the Partiya Karker Kurdistan (the PKK, in its Kurdish acronym)

after 1980. Whether academic or not, they suppose that Kurds awareness of their

distinct identity and the Kurdish ambition to control their own destiny have been

there since the advent of nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, that is to say from the

nineteenth century. Martin van Bruinessen, for example, argues that Kurdish ethnicity

is much older than Kurdish nationalism, which, according to him, is as old as other

1
nationalisms that flourished during the last days of the Ottoman Empire.3 It is true

that Kurdish ethnicity is quite old; its politicization, however, still is not. The bulk of

Kurdish intellectuals as well as Kurdish society became politicized after the 1960s,

along with the ethnicization of Kurdish identity.

Another problem existing in the literature about the Kurds and the Kurdish

movement is that while they employ theories of nationalism to explain the

suppression of other ethnic identities within the Turkish nation-state, they do not

problematize the development of Kurdish self-awareness in any serious way. They

simply regard Kurdish nationalism as a natural response to the Turkish state

discourse. Moreover, their approach seems to be mostly partial in general since they

do not criticize, but rather justify how Kurdish identity has been politicized or, to

some extent, created.

Almost all of the great works of Kurdish history in Turkey seem to have a

primordialist approach to Kurdish nationalism. It is therefore unsurprising that the

question of how the Kurdish identity developed and what it has meant in different

periods in time is not tackled. Abbas Valis article, in which he compares both

primordialist and ethnicist approaches and three major nationalist attempts to

construct Kurdish history and identity, is an exception.4 Vali points out that Kurdish

ethnicity and Kurdish nationalism are regarded as the same thing by the nationalist

reading of Kurdish history. Ali Kemal zcan, for example, while arguing, the new

Turkish state, with its new, solid Turkish nationalism, invented a Turkish nation

precisely according to the generalizations of Gellner, Hobsbawn and many other

3
Martin Van Bruinessen, Kurdish Society, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Refugee Problems,
in The Kurds; A Contemporary Overview, eds. Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl
(London and New York: Routledge, 1992),p.47.
4
Abbas Vali, Genealogies of the Kurds: Constructions of Nation and National Identity in
Kurdish Historical Writing, in Essays on the Origins of Kurdish Nationalism, ed. Abbas
Vali (California: Mazda Publishers, 2003), pp. 58-105.

2
5
scholars. However, throughout his book, he does not discuss how Kurdish

nationalism was created or how it affected Kurdish self-awareness. Bruinessen

argues in the same vain that Kurdish nationalism had developed largely in reaction

to political and cultural domination by Turks, Persians and Arabs and to their

attempts at assimilation.6 Again, a detailed discussion is absent.

The Islamist view that Kurdish nationalism was a product of the collapse of

the Ottoman Empire and the shift between systems of identities based on religion to

one based on race and ethnicity has also been influential. 7 As such, the Kurdism of

the pre-republican period expressed in journals such as Krdistan and Jn was

completely different to the movement that developed in the 1960s.

Although domestic and international environment are quite important, among

the factors which led to the above-mentioned change in Kurdish ethnonationalism is

the role of the Kurdish elite. As Hamit Bozarslan accurately demonstrates, early

Kurdish nationalism was an intellectual creation which failed to pass beyond the

existing social structure and give Kurds a united and single identity.8

That in the post-Ottoman world the rebellions of the 1920s and 1930s

indicated that Kurdish nationalism played a unifying role in Kurdish society is not

convincing in many respects. For instance, as Bozarslan argues, the bulk of the

5
Ali Kemal zcan, Turkeys Kurds; A Theoretical Analysis of the PKK and Abdullah
calan (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), p.83.
6
Martin Van Bruinessen, Kurdish Society and the Modern State: Ethnic Nationalism
versus Nation-Building p.44.
7
Mustafa Akyols thesis is a good example of this approach. See Mustafa Akyol, The
Origin of Turkey's Kurdish Question: An Outcome of The Breakdown of The Ottoman
Ancien Regime, M.A. Thesis, Boazii University, The Ataturk Institute of Modern Turkish
History, 2006.
8
Hamit Bozarslan, Political Aspects of the Kurdish Problem in Contemporary Turkey, in
The Kurds; A Contemporary Overview, ed. Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl
(London and New York: Routledge, 1992), p.100.

3
participants in the Kurdish insurrections of the 1920s and 1930s took part in the name

of tribes and religion. They were not provoked by the fact that the state was Turkish

per se, but because the state was perceived as an outsider. 9

Many scholars who have studied the Kurdish issue in Turkey have focused on

the hostility of Kemalism toward opposition and claimed that the Kemalist reforms

aimed to suppress only the Kurds in Turkey. However, this thesis dwells on the

argument that the Kemalist establishment was against any sort of opposition and was

not just against Kurds but all manifestations of opposition to the states ideology.

Walter F. Weiker, in his remarkable book, argues that the Second Group of 1922-3

and the Progressive Republican Party (PRP) of 1924-5 had to be suppressed on two

grounds; first that they challenged Mustafa Kemals personal leadership; second, they

sympathized with a public that desired a significantly slower pace of reform.10 What

is missing in the existing literature is that most works do not make any distinction

between the forces breaking away from Kemalist ideology. As Anthony Giddens

argues, the development of an absolutist state was undoubtedly associated with major

advances in internal pacification, 11 which is in the Turkish case was a consolidation

of powers by the Kemalist movement.

Especially while dealing with Kurds after the single-party era (1925-1945) the

issues are generally linked to the Turkish nation-states policies, most of which aimed

to assimilate Kurds, and deny the very existence of Kurds within its boundaries. As

9
Hamit Bozarslan,. Why the Armed Struggle? Understanding the Violence in Kurdistan of
Turkey, In The Kurdish Conflict in Turkey, eds. Ferhad Ibrahim and Glistan Grbey.
(New York: St. Martins Press, 2000), p.17.
10
Walter F. Weiker, Political Tutelage and Democracy in Turkey (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1973),
p.44.
11
Anthony Giddens, The Nation-state and Violence, (Berkeley: University of California
press, 1984), p.89.

4
will be shown, the Turkish states policies towards the Kurds evidently were the

strictest of all the states in which Kurds lived.

Yet, the transformation of Kurdish masses cannot be explained in line with

what Azad Zana Gndoan argues in his important thesis on the Eastern Meetings in

the mid-1960s. Gndoan claims that the main reason or force behind the popular

support of the Democrat Party (DP, ruling party between 1950 and 1960) among the

Kurds was the repressive policies over the Kurdish population during single-party

regime.12 Nader Entessar shares this approach, arguing that the Kurds voted

overwhelmingly for the DP in reaction to the suppression of the Kurds by Kemalist

policies.13

However, Kurdish support was only won when the traditional Kurdish

notables who had been exiled from the region were allowed to return. The lower

orders of Kurdish society most likely swung behind the DP because of the influence

of these very narrow elite not because they were alienated from Kemalism.

Furthermore, without mentioning the DPs populist policies, which generally favored

landed interests, any attempt to explain why Kurds preferred the DP rather than the

RPP seems to be incomplete. As Sabri Sayar pointed out, in the regions where Kurds

predominantly lived, the differential between the combined Justice Party, (successor

of the DP)-RPP vote in 1969 and DP-RPP vote in 1950 is nearly 49 per cent in the

southeast.14

12
Azat Zana Gndoan, The Kurdish Political Mobilization in the 1960s: The Case of the
Eastern Meetings M.A Thesis, Middle East Technical University, Political Science and
Public Administration, 2005, p.80.
13
Nader Entessar, Kurdish Ethnonationalism (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1992),
p.87.
14
Sabri Mustafa Sayar, Party Politics in Turkey: Dimensions of Competition and
Organization, Columbia University, 1972, Ph.D. dissertation, p.75-76.

5
What did the DP do in terms of easing the Kurdish issue? The main

contribution was the relaxation of religious restrictions. Otherwise, the DPs policies

towards Kurds and Kurdish identity were the same as those of the RPP. Although it is

true that the DP won the majority of the seats in the general elections of 1954 and

1957, this particular explanation does not explain why it gained in more or less the

same proportion in the other regions as well. Nor does it tell us why Kurds did not

vote for the JP in the 1960s as they did for the DP in the 1950s.

With regard to the 1960s and the affiliation between the left and the new

Kurdish elite and intellectuals, most existing literature follows the same explanation.

First of all, the Eastern question, Kurdish issue and Kurdish nationalism are

read as the same thing and used interchangeably. It is true that especially after 1908,

sophisticated Kurdish nationalist groups and organizations, such as Kurdistan Teali

Cemiyeti (Association for the Advancement of Kurdistan-1919), Azadi

(Independence-1923) or Xoybun (Stay origin-1927) were established. However, it is

not correct to argue that the Kurdish movement in the 1960s too was primarily

nationalist-cum-separatist15

As Bruinessen emphasizes, in the 1960s, political and socio-economic

developments along with migration from the villages to the big cities in western

Turkey caused many Kurds to become aware of both the cultural differences between

eastern and western Turkey and of the highly unequal economic development.16

Emrullah Uslu claims that the transformations in the economy, the political space and

education were the primary causes for the revival of the Kurdish nationalist

Nor is it correct to see the Kurdish groups that formed between 1908 and 1914 as primarily
nationalist. See, Djene Bajalan, Kurds for the Empire: the Young Kurds, M.A Thesis,
Bilgi University, 2009.
16
Martin van Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh and State: the Social and Political Structures of
Kurdistan, (London and New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd, 1992), p.32.

6
movement.17 First of all, I would like to argue that there was no revival of the Kurdish

nationalist movement. By contrast, during the 1960s, what prevailed was Douculuk

(Eastism). It was only after the failure of Douculuk that the Kurdish movement

opted for a nationalist solution to the Kurdish issue. Furthermore, even if it were

assumed that there was a revival of Kurdish nationalism this cannot be explained

merely by socio-political structural transformations. Hence, I argue that Kurdish

nationalist movement was a response to the failure of Douculuk and that the later

revival of Kurdish nationalism cannot be explained merely by sociopolitical

explanations.

In terms of the co-operation between Leftists and a new generation of Kurdish

elites and intellectuals, the following approach seems to be the best example of how

the literature on the Kurdish movement views the 1960s. According to Barkey and

Fuller, it was a period of left-wing mobilization, and many politically active Kurds

threw their lot in with the Turkish Left in search of their national rights.18 As will

be elaborated in the following chapters this argument is not accurate either. Again,

there is no mention of the role of the new elites, most of who could not fight with the

existing elites (both Turkish and Kurdish) and therefore started to seek different ways

to obtain power.

Another striking example is David Romanos book. All of his information

about this period relies on David McDowalls book. What he argues is that not

surprisingly, Kurds joined the new leftist movements in disproportionate numbers,

and the experience they garnered in the Turkish Left would later help provide the

17
Emrullah Uslu, The Transformation of Kurdish Political Identity in Turkey: Impact of
Modernization, Democratization and Globalization, Ph.D. dissertation, Middle East
Studies/Political Science, University of Utah, 2009, p.119.
18
Henri J. Barkey and Graham E.Fuller, Turkeys Kurdish Question, foreword by Morton
Abramowitz, Lanham (Boulder, New York and Oxford, Rowman and Littefield Publisher,
inc. 1998), p.15.

7
foundations for the emergence of a non-traditional, Kurdish intellectual and

revolutionary elite.19 He does not give any statistics on how many Kurds joined the

leftist movement or why they joined. Although McDowalls book is one of the most

important books in the field, the way he describes the result of the new Kurdish elite

joining the Turkish Labor Party (TLP) and the subsequent process of this affiliation

are confusing. He argues that:

Frustrated with the TLPs reticence over the Kurdish question, [Tark Ziya]
Ekinci and other colleagues formed autonomous cells within the party from
1966. After he had become party secretary-general in 1968, and a fellow
Kurd, Mehmet Ali Aslan, had become party president the following year, a
major effort was made to persuade the party to address the Kurdish question
head on. Aslan had made a reputation for himself as the editor of Yeni Ak
which openly advocated recognition of national rights for the Kurds. At the
TLPs Fourth Congress in October 1970 the party affirmed: there is a Kurdish
people in the East of Turkey the fascist authorities representing the ruling
classes have subjected the Kurdish people to a policy of assimilation and
intimidation which has often become a bloody repression.20

As will be seen in the following chapters, McDowall not only overlooks the

split among those Kurds who were members or supporters of the party (generally

known as Doulu or Easterners), but also misrepresents the fact that when the party

affirmed the above-mentioned resolution, Tark Ziya Ekinci and Kemal Burkay, two

of the most influential members, abstained from voting and did not support the

resolution. Moreover, Mehmet Ali Aslan argues that he himself tried to persuade the

party not to affirm it since it would provoke the government into closing the party.21

In other words, they did not support the resolution which McDowall depicts as a

result of their pressure upon the party.

19
David Romano, The Kurdish Nationalist Movements; Opportunity, Mobilization, and
Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.41.
20
David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (London; New York: I.B. Tauris,
1996), p.407.
21
Mehmet Ali Aslan, interview by the author, tape recording, Istanbul, Turkey, 31 January
2009.

8
Another controversial issue is Douculuk or Eastism, a movement which put

great emphasis on the regions underdevelopment and to a certain extent, on Kurdish

cultural and political rights, all of which, according to its advocates, were in

accordance with the Constitution of 1961. This thesis argues that Douculuk was the

beginning of what can be called the Kurdish ethnoregional movement. The existing

literature mainly argues that Douculuk was a transitory period in the rebirth of the

Kurdish national movement.22 According to Bruinessen, the East meant

Kurdistan, as everyone knew, but in order to maintain legality no open reference to

Kurdistan or Kurds could be made.23

However, I argue that the East, for Doucus, meant a constituency, which

would bring them political privileges. Therefore, they not only used the socialist

rhetoric, but also linked it with the existing situation in the region, that is to say, to the

economic backwardness and suppression of the Kurdish ethnicity and identity. I agree

with Ebru Erdem when she compares Tajiks and Kurds and argues that ethnicity

becomes salient under conditions where new ethnic elites find it possible and

profitable to compete politically and where a potential constituency prefers them over

the existing elites.24

Finally, the separation of Douculuk from the leftist or socialist movement,

especially in the late 1960s is worth mentioning here. According to Mesut Yeen, in

addition to the nature of the Kurdish issue, the insistence of Kurdish leftists on

22
Nezan Kendal, Kurdistan in Turkey in A People Without a Country; The Kurds&
Kurdistan, ed. Gerard Chaliand (New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993), p.67.
23
Martin Van Bruinessen, The Kurds in Turkey, in Martin Van Bruinessen, Kurdish
Ethno-Nationalism versus Nation-Building States: Collected Essays, (Istanbul: the Isis
Press, 2000), p.229.
24
Ebru Erdem, Political Salience of Ethnic Identities: A Comparative Study of Tajiks in
Uzbekistan and Kurds in Turkey, Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, Political Science,
September 2006, p.iv.

9
organizing apart from their Turkish counterparts was a decisive factor behind the

separation from Turkish socialists, who did not deny the existence of the Kurdish

question but, however, did not prioritize it.25 On the contrary, Erdem mentions it as a

decision made by those Kurds who had been active in leftist organizations and then

somehow broke away from the leftist movement.26 The disagreement between leftists

and Kurds in terms of the Kurdish issue, especially for the Doulus, was not salient

initially. However, with respect to how to attain power or solve the question, both

sides, Kurdish leftists and Turkish leftists, became more clear, especially after a

younger generation of Kurdish intellectuals, such as students or young graduates

entered the debate.

Alice Marcus, in her excellent book Blood and Belief, the PKK and the

Kurdish Fight for Independence, in one of the most thorough studies on the matter,

gives us many insights into the personality of PKK leader Abdullah calan and a

deep analysis of his leadership, as well as the organization and the way it deals with

Kurdish people. calan, as the leader of the biggest Kurdish organization, ordered the

murders of several people in order to secure his leadership, among them some

founders of the organization.27 In our case, the issue of leadership is of key

importance as well. The authoritarianism of the PKK has to be seen in the context of

the importance that the leadership issue had played during the 1960s and 1970s.

To sum up, the existing literature on the Kurdish movement about the 1960s

in general and its affiliation with the Turkish socialist and leftist movement does not

do justice to the complexity of the situation. Seeing Kurdish nationalism as starting

25
Mesut Yeen, Trkiye Solu ve Krt Sorunu, in Modern Trkiyede Siyasi Dnce,
Cilt.8, Sol, ed. Murat Gltekingil (stanbul: letiim Yaynlar, 2007), p.1231.
26
Erdem, p.50.
27
Alice Marcus, Blood and Belief, the PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence, (New
York University Press, 2007), p.134135.

10
from the early nineteenth century and defeated by the Turkish nation-state by the late

1930s, going through a revival in the 1960s due to the relatively more liberal political

atmosphere, does not give us a plausible explanation of why the politics in general

and in the region in particular changed its direction during and after the 1960s. The

existing literature does not give a convincing answer to the question of how the

contemporary Kurdish identity, which inherited much from the discussions of the

1960s, was created and how many Kurds became politicized.

It is remarkable that during the 1977 elections the constituents of many

provinces in the east voted for those who publicly declared that they were, to some

extent, Kurdish nationalists. This pattern has more or less remained a constant feature

of eastern politics with those seen as sympathizers with Kurdish nationalism forming

one of the most important political blocs in the region. The voting pattern in this

region has shown a drastic change in the last forty years, more so than any other

region in Turkey. In the 2009 local elections, more than 40 per cent of votes in the

region were won by those who either committed themselves to Kurdish nationalism,

as a means of identity seeking or to at least pay more attention to the regions

socioeconomic situation. In my opinion, this is not because Kurds, by nature, have

voted for Kurdish nationalists, but because they have voted for those political parties

whose policies have focused on the region in terms of both culture and economy.

As a departure point, the transformation can be linked with the subject of this

study, the shift from a national perspective to a regional one. As early publications of

Kurdish nationalism such as Krdistan, the first Kurdish newspaper published

between 1897 and 1909, and Jin (Life), a bilingual journal published in Kurdish and

Turkish between 1918 and 1919 clearly show that Kurds were initially quite eager to

integrate with the central state in many respects. This was the same even in the early

11
Republican era. However, their approach changed in the 1960s when many young

Kurdish intellectuals endeavored to both regionalize the politics and politicize the

constituents of the region, in accordance with a regionalized politics which put great

emphasis on the ethnic distinctiveness of the people and economic backwardness of

the region. The shift from a national perspective to a regional one also led to the split

with Turkish socialists, who did not prioritize the region in the first place.

I argue that the period under investigation in this thesis is pivotal for our

understanding of the process in which the modern Kurdish identity in Turkey has

been shaped. It can be claimed that what we observe during the 1960s and the early

1970s diverges from the historicist narratives on the rise of Kurdish nationalism. First

of all, during this period, most Kurdish organizations and actors, including Kurdistan

Democrat Party of Turkey, a clandestine organization established in 1965 in the

region, were in the stage of building their perspectives and ideological tendencies.

They, contrary to common assumption, were not nationalist in the modern sense of

the term that they advocated a political solution based on the creation of a Kurdish

nation-state (or even a Kurdish autonomous homeland). They were seeking nothing

more than integration with the Turkish public sphere. In this way, the demands were

more concerned with integration than with separation.28 However, they were not

willing to abandon what they had inherited from their families and previous

generations, which can be called ethnicity. My analysis led me to conclude that in

advance, they were quite eager to participate and become visible in the Turkish public

sphere, especially through national politics.

In order to achieve this goal, the Kurdish intelligentsia was quite pragmatic

and ambitious in many respects. As I will deal with it more specifically in the next

28
Hamit Bozarslan, Political Aspects of the Kurdish Problem in Contemporary Turkey,
p.100.

12
chapters, they would try to participate in national politics through major parties, such

as the Republican Peoples Party (RPP) or the Democrat Party (DP). It was after the

foundation of the Turkish Labor Party (TLP) that many of the new Kurdish elites

changed their direction from a national perspective to a regional one. Without

understanding this, one cannot analyze properly the post-1960s developments in

Turkish politics in general and Kurdish politics in particular. The Kurdish

ethnoregional movement of the 1960s, by putting its entire emphasis on the regions

economic situation and social and cultural problems, also paved the way to a regional

perception in terms of politics. Prior to this, socialists and Kurdish activists had not

seen the region as separate from other parts of Turkey. To be sure, Kurdish activists

and leftists prior to the 1960s had seen that there were some specificities to the east,

but generally they felt that these were linked to the problems of Turkey in general.

Contrary the experiences of other ethnoregional movements in the world, the

Kurdish ethnoregional movement of the 1960s did not pave the way to autonomy or

independence but rather for the emergence of ethnoregional political parties and

organizations, as I specify in the following section. Moreover, it led to the

politicization of the constituents of the region as well as ethnicization of the regions

votes. All those movements that formed after the 1970s that declared that their main

aim was the solution of the Kurdish issue or at the very least the promotion of

Kurdish interests in Turkey can be seen as products of both the successes and failures

of the movement of the 1960s.

In addition to the role of elite politics and power struggles, it is also important

to see how these elites changed their views vis--vis the Kurdish problem. For

example, by the late 1960s, it became clear that the constitution per se and the

economic development could neither solve the question nor give them any prominent

13
role. This can be seen as the trigger behind why the Kurdish elites opted to play the

ethnic card. As Erdem points out:

where ethnic groups have a regional base, political entrepreneurs can benefit
most by playing the ethnic card because it allows them to mobilize as many
people as possible in the regionthe new elites position themselves against
the state-local elite alliance, claim to be the true representatives of the ethnic
group, and use the threat of secession to strengthen their hand in bargaining.29

With regard to my theoretical arguments, I will argue that since playing the

socialist card above the ethnic card during the 1960s failed to win the Kurdish elite a

greater role in Turkish politics, and did not bring any results, conditions encouraged

them to take a greater risk by focusing on the ethnic card or discourage them from

any attempts to attain power in general and from politics in particular. Those who

chose to take another risk, in the 1970s, as a result of the previous failure, focused

mainly on ethnicity and esteemed only Kurdish nationalism. As a combination of

what they experienced during the 1960s with the socialist movement and heritage of

the single-party era Kurdish rebellions, modern Kurdish nationalism and its discourse

overshadow what can be seen as not having been in the same line with it.

Consequently, what we have seen in the previous pages with respect to the literature

on the Kurdish movement, especially about 1960s, is a good example of this shift,

which reconstitutes the past in accordance with how they want to see it now.

Ethnoregional Movements

The most important characteristic of the 1960s was, undoubtedly, the

politicization and the polarization of politics in many countries. In addition to the

29
Erdem, p.18.

14
socio-economic transformation of almost every society,30 there was a revitalization of

cultural and ethnic communities as well. It was an era of new nation-states as well as

unprecedented socio-political transformation in many respects. Meanwhile, as

Edward Shills indicates, the separation of the uneducated masses immersed in their

traditional culture from their rural backgrounds and the intellectuals who had modern

educations were the factors causing changes in the social structure of practically all

the new states.31The message in both new states and old European nation-states as

well as the United States, was that if it was beautiful to be black, Chicano, Puerto

Rican, or Indian, then it has to be more beautiful still to be Irish, Italian, Jewish,

Polish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Greek, Armenian, or whatever your origins indicated that

you could now be proud to know that you were.32

Along with the above-mentioned transformation, from the 1960s and

particularly from the 1970s, a growing disenchantment with explaining everything in

economic and social terms also led to the creation of another type of historiography,

which is called new cultural historiography. 33 However, it was not until the mid-

1970s that the omnipotent place of economic and social terms of theories, such as

Marxism, and to certain extent Dependency Theory, which I will be briefly touching

on in the following section, was challenged by ethnic and cultural terms. In the 1960s,

30
See Eric Hobsbawn, Ksa 20. Yzyl: 1914- 1991 Arlklar a, trans.Yavuz Alogan
(stanbul: Everest Yaynlar, 2006).
31
Edward Shills, on the Comparative Study if the New States, in Old Societies and New
States: The Quest for Modernity in Asia and Africa, ed. Clifford Geertz (London: The Free
Press of Glencoe, 1963), pp.1-16.
32
Harold, R. Isaacs, Idols of the Tribe (New York, Evanston, London: Harper& Row
Publishers, 1975), p.210.
33
S. H. Rigby, History, Discourse, and the Postsocial Paradigm; A Revolution in
Historiography, History and Theory 45 (February 2006), pp. 110123.

15
it was slowly being realized, ethnic identities survived through several generations far

from drowning in the confluence of assimilation and acculturation. 34

Ethnic identity is important in understanding an ethnoregional movement

because not only does ethnic identity, or ethnicity, serve as one of the two dimensions

of an ethnoregional movement along with the regional economic situation, but also it

serves as a catalyst in it. The other dimension of an ethnoregional movement is the

regional economic deprivation or backwardness, which is usually associated with

their distinct ethnic identity by the participants of the movement. To many of their

followers, ethnicity and regional economic situation are closely interrelated, and in

the Kurdish case in particular. Herein, I shall first briefly look at what ethnicity means

and what I understand about an ethnic community.

It is important to stress at the outset, as Miroslav Hroch also argues, that we

are very far from being able to explain all the major problems posed by the formation

of modern nations.35It is also important to keep in mind that there is no commonly

agreed definition for ethnicity or nationalism. As J. Milton Yinger notes, ethnicity,

nationality, and country or origin are often used as synonyms.36 Therefore, ethnicity,

nationality and culture are generally used interchangeably. This pattern seems to be

similar in terms of the ethnoregional movements, too.

Ethnicity can be defined as a cultural phenomenon based on biological and

social heritage; but it includes elements of class and territory as well.37 On the other

34
Gregory Jusdanis, Beyond National Culture? Boundary, 2, no.1 (spring, 1995), pp.23
60.
35
Miroslav Hroch From National Movement to the Fully-formed Nation, New Left Review
I/198 ( Mar-Apr 1993), pp. 320.
36
J. Milton Yinger, Ethnicity,Annual Review of Sociology, no. 11 (1985), pp. 151180.
37
Charles R. Foster, Political Culture and Regional Ethnic Minorities, The Journal of
Politics, 44, no. 2 (May, 1982), pp. 560568.

16
hand, Horowitz argues that ethnicity is connected to birth and blood; group origins

count, but exceptions are made. It is based on a myth of collective ancestry.38 Since

his definition of ethnicity does not include culture which is transmitted socially

across generations within a group, resulting in patterns of within-group similarity and

between group differences,39 it fails to explain why some members of a ethnically

conscious group, although they were born and have the same blood as the rest, do not

express their identities in terms of ethnicity as the rest do.

In the broadest sense of the term, an ethnic group or ethnies as Anthony D.

Smith uses, is supposed to be a cultural category, distinguished by both members

and outsiders as possessing the attributes of: an identifying name or emblem; a myth

of common ancestry; shared historical memories and traditions; one or more elements

of common culture; a link with and historic territory or homeland; a measure of

solidarity, at least among elites.40

From this angle, ethnicity is much more a cultural phenomenon than birth and

blood, or so-called biological heritage, which is based on someones own decision to

accept his or her distinct culture no matter if it is based upon religion, race, language,

and so on. In other words, while the choice is clearly constrained by objective

indicators of common ancestry - appearance, language, culture or territory - one

cannot overlook the influence of rational considerations of costs and benefits or social

38
Donald L Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley; Los Angeles, London:
University of California Press, 2000), pp.523.
39
David Buss, Human Nature and Culture, An Evolutionary Psychological Perspective,
Journal of Personality, 60, no. 6 (December, 2001), pp.955-956.
40
Anthony D. Smith, Myths and Memories of the Nation, (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999), p.13.

17
conditioning on an individual's identification with either the dominant culture, an

ethnic group within it or, in certain circumstances, with both.41

Until recently, ethnicity, as well as nationalism, has often been studied in the

context of modernization. An important proposition of modernization theories is that

the various processes of modernizationindustrialization, urbanization, increases in

transportation and communication, the growth of mass education, and so onlead to

national integration and to the fading away of ethnic plurality in particular.42As

Horowitz points out, there are three ways of relating ethnic conflict to the

modernization process. The first is to view ethnic conflict as a mere relic of an

outmoded traditionalism, doomed to be overtaken by the incursions of modernity.

The second is to regard ethnic conflict as a traditional but unusually stubborn

impediment to modernization. The third is to interpret ethnic conflict as an integral

parteven a productof the process of modernization itself.43 Nonetheless, as

Connor argues, as the ethnic demands of those whose ethnic identity had been

considered nonexistent or excluded from political analysis, scholars feel compelled to

proffer a pile of theories to explain this unanticipated social phenomenon. 44

Of course, reduced the costs of travel along with effective communications

have accelerated social mobilization in general and ethnoregional movements in

particular. These developments have made it possible for ethnic communities to

41
Foster, p.564.
42
Arend Lijphart, Political Theories and the Explanation of Ethnic Conflict in the Western
World: Falsified Predictions and Plausible Postdictions,in Ethnic Conflict in the Western
World, ed. Milton, J. Esman (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Pres, 1977 ), p.48.
43
Horowitz, pp.96-97.
44
Walker Connor, Ethnonationalism in the First World: The Present in Historical
Perspective, in Ethnic Conflict in the Western World, ed, Milton, J. Esman (Ithaca and
London: Cornell University Pres, 1977) p.23.

18
become much more aware of their distinctiveness than ever. Modernization also has

another effect, called the demonstration effect, which has had a very discernible,

chain-reaction impact upon the evolution of ethnic awareness. 45 Furthermore, as

McCarty and Zald emphasize, means of communication, transportation, political

freedoms affect the costs for any individual or organization allocating resources to the

social movements.46

Concerning the regional aspect, which is the second dimension of an

ethnoregional movement, Milton Esman argues that modernization gives a chance to

regional people to observe the differences in conditions firsthand, and their

impressions are confirmed or accentuated by what they observe of people visiting

their regions as well.47 Due mainly to mirroring their regions deprivation in terms of

both economy and culture, these developments encourage ethnoregional activists.

Finally, development as well as underdevelopment leads to a rise rather than a decline

in ethnic mobilization, because it provides resources to ethnic groups increasing their

bargaining position and organizational capacity for action. 48

What many of those who are involved in an ethnoregional movement would

want to understand is the chasm between their states or regions and their ethnic

groups. One of the first explanations of this was Dependency theory, which dates

back to the late 1950s and claims that the underdevelopment of countries, mainly

45
Connor, p.29-30.
46
John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A
Partial Theory, The American Journal of Sociology, 82, no. 6 (May, 1977), p.1224.
47
Milton J. Esman, Perspectives on Ethnic Conflict in Industrialized Societies, in Ethnic
Conflict in the Western World, ed. Milton, J. Esman (Ithaca and London: Cornell University
Pres, 1977), p.374.
48
Rita Jalali and Seymour Martin Lipset, Racial and Ethnic Conflicts: A Global
Perspective, in Political Science Quarterly, 107, no. 4 (Winter, 19921993), pp.596.

19
Third World countries, was a result of unequal relationships among states.

Dependency is the source of underdevelopment.49 The only way of avoiding

dependency is creating an alternative system of production, a non-capitalist system of

production, in one way or another as will be seen in the following sections, socialism

was proposed as an alternative.50 To recapitulate, the economic underdevelopment

and deprivation had to be overcome not with the same path that prosperous countries

or regions within a country achieved, but rather with socialism. In the following

sections, I will be dealing with this particular emphasis on socialism in detail.

An ethnoregional movement, as mentioned above, is twofold. First, it is based

on the ethnic distinctiveness of the population based upon ethnicity, religion, race,

and language and so on and so forth, in a region; and second, it is based on the

regions economic underdevelopment. It has been argued that ethnic elites

aspirations are governed by various factors such as leadership, the central

governments responses, economic circumstances, the degree of distinctiveness, and

majority-group attitudes, which can influence the intensity of collective ambitions.51

This is the case in Kurdish ethnoregional movement, too. An ethnoregional

movement differs from social movements in a number of ways. First, although it is

itself a social movement, using McCarty and Zalds term, it also undertakes resource

mobilization, which has a number of strategic tasks such as mobilizing supporters,

49
Thomas, Martin, Marxism and Imperialism Workers Liberty 28 available online at:
http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:04sPvohDIsIJ:archive.workersliberty.org/publication
s/readings/2001/empire.html+dependency+theory+workers%27+liberty+28&hl=tr&ct=clnk
&cd=7
50
See also Harriet Friedmann, Jack Wayne. Dependency Theory: A Critique. Canadian
Journal of Sociology, 2, no. 4 (Autumn, 1997), pp.399416.
51
Marvin W. Mikesell and Alexander B. Murphy, A Framework for Comparative Study of
Minority-Group Aspirations, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 81, no. 4
(December 1991), p.584.

20
neutralizing and/or transforming mass and elite publics into sympathizers, achieving

change in targets.52

Figure1, which was drawn by me based on Esmans and Mikesell and

Murphys studies, shows how an ethnoregional movement operates and what

conditions are needed. In other words, it tries to answer the following question asked

by Esman: What techniques of mobilization and politicization are employed by

various ethnic movements, and what new forms of social and political organization

have appeared to spearhead these movements?53

Although Esman does not include what I call the refusal of assimilation or

being a subordinate group, five conditions are offered by him in order to explain the

politicization of ethnic groups, which are applicable to the subject of this thesis as

well. According to him, the five conditions seem necessary and sufficient to explain

and predict the politicization of ethnic solidarities in the First World are as displayed

in Figure 1:

52
McCarty and Zald make a distinction between traditional and resource mobilization which
is quite important to see what kind of similarities as well as differences exists between two.
See John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, p.1217.
53
Esman, pp.371372.

21
Refusal of assimilation
or subordinate status
Independence
Group identity based on
shared properties Peaceful electoral
Autonomy politics
Grievances based on
political, cultural and Self-determination Mass demonstrations
economic deprivations

Rising expectations Attention by Masses

Declining authority and Persuasion of individuals


effectiveness of the
political centre
Highlighting of economic,
The political, cultural grievances
Political organization to Ethnoregional
articulate ethnoregional Movements Criticism of the system and
goals and group interests institutions

Figure 1 Ethnoregional movements


Source: It is drawn by the author on Milton J. Esman, Perspectives on Ethnic Conflict in
Industrialized Societies,; and Marvin W. Mikesell and Alexander B. Murphy, A
Framework for Comparative Study of Minority-Group Aspirations,

In addition to the above-mentioned conditions, the ethnoregional movements

may politicize and socialize their members differently from each other. It is also true

that they all have some common features, which are more or less the same for each

movement. For instance, institutional structures and state policies play a major role in

shaping and conditioning the emergence of such movements.54 Accordingly, a deep

crisis of the old order, with the breakdown of its legitimacy, and of the values and

sentiments that sustained it is the precondition for the rise of almost every

ethnoregional movements. It also is generally accepted that current ethnoregional

movements are related to the rising discontent among the ethnic elites. Therefore, it is

54
Jalali and Lipset, pp.596597.

22
observed that a substantial component of the ethnoregional movements consists of

relatively well educated persons, including teachers and technicians, whose economic

rewards, social recognition, or opportunities for the exercise of power and influence

fall short of their expectations.55

As Figure 1 depicts, an ethnoregional movement, first of all, is based on

existing grievances such as economic, political, and cultural ones. An ethnoregional

movement employs the past as a defining element in the concept of ethnic identity of

that population which it endeavors to influence. Therefore, the past, or history,

deliberately is reread and hence historical myths as well as legends become more

visible than ever. Of course, there is always a gap between the history which they

learn from the previous generations, including reading materials, and the dominant

one which national history claims to be the sole truth. 56 Now, however, history is

utilized in order to not only bridge that gap but also to give an impetus to the

movement per se.

The ethnoregional movements virtually lack an ideological form. Initially,

they borrow from present ideologies to articulate their grievances. Thus, they use a

vague language at the beginning and it is observed that many of the activists oscillate

between nationalism, which is seen as a panacea to the cultural and political

grievances, and a socialist rhetoric which is regarded as the sole solution to the

backwardness of the regions economy. Despite the fact that there is a different

agenda peculiar to every ethnoregional movement, the whole system in general and

institutions in particular are judged increasingly by many educated young people in

terms of new aspirations for economic equality, group participation, political and
55
Esman, p.375.
56
Joseph B. Gittler (ed), Understanding Minority Groups (New York, John Wiley& sons,
inc. 1956), p.129.

23
57
cultural rights. In a similar manner, Esman rightfully argues that in addition to

economic grievances which emerge in the regions, and the assistance seen as

insufficient to meet rising expectations, cultural grievances are invoked frequently by

ethnic activists to demonstrate the injustices perpetrated by an indifferent or hostile

central government.58

Persuasion of individuals, according to figure 1 is the next step that follows.

The crux of the issue is that individuals must be persuaded that their interests are

linked with the power of his ethnic group and his region. 59 Hence, they must be

persuaded that their interests are linked with the power of the group representatives,

that is to say, the elites who are now at the head of the movement who want to be

elected or regarded as the avant-garde of the movement. 60 This process of shifting

loyalties from religious and tribal ones to an ethnoregional one is worth taking into

consideration since it changes peoples allegiances so drastically that the entire

society, both the country and the region will be affected by these changes afterwards.

Not surprisingly, as Karl W. Deutsch points out, socio-economic expectations

of the people would change especially in such a way that the existing state machinery

will not be able to compensate them. Deutsch sums up what is called the social

mobilization process in the following words:

As people are uprooted from their physical and intellectual isolation in their
immediate localities, from their old habits and traditions, and often from their
old patterns of occupation they experience drastic changes in their needs.
They may now come to need provisions for housing and employment, for
social security against illness for medical care They may need succor
against the risks of cyclical or seasonal unemployment, against oppressive
charges of rent or interest, and against sharp fluctuations in the prices of the

57
Esman, p.375.
58
Ibid., p.373.
59
Ibid., p.378.
60
Hroch, p.16.

24
main commodities which they must sell or buy. They need instruction for
themselves and education for their children. They need, in short, a wide range
and large amounts of new government services. These needs ordinarily cannot
be met by traditional types of government.61

In order to draw a general conclusion about ethnoregional movements, as

Hroch argues, we need to know more about the ethnically unconcerned or assimilated

intelligentsias as well as ordinary people. However, it is not so easy to make a

distinction between those who publicly support ethnoregional demands and those who

neither support nor share the same concerns with them. 62 Leaving aside the

assimilated or unconcerned parts of the ethnic groups, it is important to briefly

comment on what sort of factors play a role in both the socialization and politicization

of an individual.

The home, as the place where socialization and politicization take place in

their most basic and enduring forms, is obviously the origin of ethnic identitys most
63
important carriers, such as language and religion. As David Kamens points out,

efforts to politicize, or nationalize, the socialization of children as a state

responsibility was one mode of both articulating the claims of the state over future

citizens and linking the interests of children with those of the state.64 As to their

ultimate objectives, the ethnoregional movements pursue the same goal as well.

More or less simultaneously, when the ethnoregional movement gains impetus

and attracts attention from the masses, social mobilization increases, too. One of the

61
Karl W. Deutsch, Social Mobilization and Political Development, The American
Political Science Review, 55, no. 3 (September, 1961), p.498.
62
Hroch, p.12.
63
Foster, p.568.
64
David H. Kamens, "Statist" Ideology, National Political Control of Education, and Youth
Protest: A Comparative Analysis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution,27, no. 4 (December,
1983), p.570.

25
reasons behind this could be because the elites of the ethnoregional movements

succeed in gathering the early socialization and politicization of individuals which

used to take place at home around a publicly announced one, which provides new

patterns of socialization and behavior.

In pursuit of the goal sensitizing and politicizing the population of the region

in order to expand and draw additional support, an ethnoregional movement may

focus its attention on some intermediate goals, such as amelioration in terms of

economy, or fulfillment of citizenship. As Esman emphasizes, the leaders of the

movement who agree on the ultimate goals of self-determination, which is either

autonomy or independence in many cases, must decide whether to use violence or

peaceful electoral politics, and whether to place an emphasis on cultural, economic,


65
or political issues. Another point which deserves attention is timing. Timing is

crucial because they have to decide, as mentioned above, what sort of tactics and

intermediate goals will be used and when they would shift from those to the ultimate

goals.

Mikesell and Murphy provide some important insights into the dynamics of

interaction between minority groups and governments by using the formula, rap SAI,

where the numerator is the combination of letters of recognition, access and

participation, the denominator is of separation, autonomy and

independence. 66 As is seen in Table 1, there are essentially two types of policy,

concessional and structural, respectively, which ethnoregional movements seek to

accomplish. Recognition, access and participation are categorized as concessional,

which does not require any structural change in state structure whereas separation,

65
Esman, p.377.
66
Mikesell and Murphy, p.582.

26
autonomy, and independence are structural policies which require some changes in

the nation-states structure.

Table 1. Nation-States and Minority-Group Objectives 67

Types of Associated Types of Cultural- Political


Aspirations Policy Demands Arrangements Sought

Acknowledgment of
groups existence, respect Official language or religion, special
Recognition
for groups special cultural institutions
attributes
No discrimination,
Affirmative action, anti-discrimination
Access employment opportunities,
laws, economic development assistance
advancement opportunities
Proportional representation, ethnic
Power sharing, input into
Participation quotas in government, legislative
policy making
special majorities
Exemption from societal
Seperation Community autonomism
forms
Control of minority region, Confederalism, federalism, regional
Autonomy devolution, regional autonomism, regional administration,
unilingualism decentralization
New state transfer to
Independence Recognized secession
neighboring state

In addition, assimilation is the major policy which is virtually seen in every

state as an alternative to these two models and the most used one as well. Among the

aspirations and responses displayed in Table 1, I shall briefly mention two of the most

striking facets of the ethnoregional movements, the activists, who generally consist of

a young educated elite, and intra-elites conflicts. Regarding the former, I have already

mentioned that the activists of the ethnoregional movements, especially at the

beginning, are relatively well-educated young generation of the population. This trait

of ethnoregional movements is also common in the Kurdish movement of the 1960s.

Young generations of educated people, as Esman argues, initially take the

greatest risk in shaping ethnoregional movements and in building organizations

67
Source: Marvin W. Mikesell and Alexander B. Murphy.

27
designed to promote their objectives.68 Another point is that an ethnoregional

movement consists of different people from different occupations and classes as well.

I use the term activists of the movements in a different sense from adherents or

supporters of the movement. As McCarty and Zald reveal, cadre, constituent,

conscience constituent, adherent, and supporter all may be components of a social

movement69 as well as an ethnoregional movement.

As soon as they, the elites or cadres of the movement, experience some

success in mobilization within their region, they become a counter-elite to the

established ethnic elites, who are linked to the political and economic structures of the

centralized state.70 Politicizing and mobilizing the regions people would pave the

way to destruction of old allegiances from which the established ethnic elites mainly

profited. The established ethnic elites in the Kurdish movement referred to those who

already had been affiliated with mainstream political parties and not the TLP.

Therefore, this move would not only change the latters attitude but also would make

the former much more aggressive. That is why some established political groups find

it expedient to embrace some ethnically based symbols and demands in order to co-

opt some parts of these movements growing constituencies.71 That is also why some

early activists of ethnoregional movements, due mainly to the scarcity of benefits of

the movement from the beginning, become uncompromising in many respects.

As a matter of fact, this explains exactly why the Turkish Labor Party in

Turkey, although not willing to get involved in the Kurdish movement initially, gave

a lot of attention to what they called Dou Sorunu soon after some Kurdish

68
Esman, p.376.
69
See McCarty and Zald, p.1221.
70
Esman, p. 377.
71
Ibid.

28
intellectuals joined the party in the mid-1960s. On the other hand, politicized and

mobilized constituencies would lead to splits in a united movement. This is crucial in

understanding what happened in the Kurdish case in the 1960s. It also a

demonstration of intra-elite conflicts, some of which later turned into personal

conflicts as well. Leading positions, candidacy for the parliament and so on, can lead

to these conflicts more than anything else and threaten the movement as a whole.

Nation-States and Ethnoregional Movements

In this section, first I will be concerned with the following question; What

are the methods by which the governmental and political elites of established states

attempt to respond to, and manage the claims of, emergent and dissident ethnic

minorities?72 Therefore, the ground in which the nationalism, the ideology of nation-

states to provide an alternative to the citizens or people of the states, was rooted needs

to be articulated. Secondly, I will try to elaborate the policies of nation-states offered

to the ethnoregional movements mentioned above.

As in the concept of ethnicity, there is no consensus among scholars on the

definition of nationalism. As is well known, nationalism is one of the most hotly

debated issues in the social sciences. First of all, we can argue that nationalism is an

outcome of modern, industrial society, which Eric Hobsbawn calls the social

engineering process between 1879 and 1914.73 According to Smith, nationalism is

defined as an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining identity, unity and

autonomy of a social group some of whose members deem it to constitute an actual or


72
Esman, pp.371-372.
73
Eric, J. Hobsbawn, Milletler ve Milliyetilik; Program, Mit, Gerekilik, trans. Osman
Akinhay (stanbul: Ayrnt Yaynlar, 2006), p.125-133.

29
potential nation.74Yet, as Roger Friedland argues, nationalism is not merely an

ideology; it is also a set of discursive practices by which the territorial identity of a

state and the cultural identity of the people whose collective representation it claims

are constituted as a singular fact. 75

Benedict Anderson argues that nationalism and nations are imagined. He also

claims that this is a gradual process of forgetting. According to Anderson, it is the

sense of fraternity which keeps people together by imagining a certain kind of bond

among them.76 Hobsbawn argues in the same vein that as has frequently been

observed in the case of nationalism, the past is either invented or re-invented.77

Accordingly, Renan argues that getting history wrong is the precondition of

nationalist history because it requires not only collective remembering but also

collective forgetting.78 The overall objective of all types of nationalism is a

statehood that is territorially unified, socially re-identified, ethnically re-forged or re-

formed.79

Generally, the state as the central actor in national politics dominates every

kind of ideology. In order to remain the sole actor, its ideology usually borrows from

the political ideologies of a given period, such as socialism. In order to vindicate this

role perceived by the state elites, several policies have been used. It is well known

74
Smith, p.18.
75
Roger Friedland, Money, Sex, and God: The Erotic Logic of Religious Nationalism, in
Sociological Theory, Vol. 20, No. 3 (November, 2002), p.383.
76
Benedict Anderson, Hayali Cemaatler; Milliyetiliin Kkenleri ve Yaylmas, trans.
skender Savar (stanbul: Metis Yayinlari, 4th edition, 2007), p.20 and p.215.
77
Hobsbawn, p.9.
78
Quoted in Hobsbawn, p.27.
79
zcan, p.37.

30
that nation-state tends to pacify any sources of ideological challenge within its

boundaries. As Giddens indicates, internal pacification without means of violence

depends instead on reciprocity between those who are governed and those who

govern, and that is only possible with some measure of political democracy.80

At the same time, as figure 2 sets out, soon after securing its power over its

territory nation-states, in order to deal with minority groups or ethnoregional

movements, two kinds of policies are mainly chosen ; assimilation and

accommodation. It is the ultimate goal of any nation-states to homogenize its

people in accordance with nationalist mottos such as unity of language, culture, and

territory.

Assimilation can be seen in several different ways and forms. Some of the

policies used are exclusion of a groups language and culture from the public sphere,

resettlement, imprisonment of a groups leaders and activists, banning publications,

outlawing the activities of political or cultural organizations of the group, and

refusing to legitimate the use of language. Gordon outlines seven variables of

assimilation: absence of prejudice, absence of discrimination, absence of value and

power conflict, integration, acculturation, identification, and amalgamation.81

According to Yinger, the first three variables can better be seen as causes and

consequences of the extent of assimilation, rather than as types of assimilation

whereas the last four can be seen as structural, cultural, psychological, and biological

aspects of assimilation.82

80
Giddens, p.201.
81
Yinger, p.154.
82
For further discussion about Gordons classification, see Yinger, pp.154156.

31
N
A O
S Neglect Recognition N
S S
I T
Denial of official Access R
M recognition U
I C A
L Participation T C
Ridicule U C
A
T R O
A M
I To sensitize the L
O majority of society M
N O
D
Repression S
A
Separation T
R T
U I
Autonomy C O
T N
U
Independence R
A
L
Figure 2 Nation-States and ethnoregional demands
Source: drawn by the author on Milton J. Esman, and Marvin W. Mikesell and
Alexander B. Murphy,

It must be noted that assimilation is a multidimensional process, the various

aspects of which, although highly interactive, can occur independently at different

rates and different sequences.83 When an ethnoregional movement starts to express

ethnoregional demands, the response is well summarized by Esman as follows:

The first response to this unwelcome challenge is usually studied, neglect,


denial of official recognition, and a refusal to take ethnoregional demands
seriously, in the hope that they will die down or go away. If ethnoregional
demands survive the pain of neglect, they next evoke ridicule from the center
and its political and intellectual allies. The objectives of ridicule are to
discredit ethnic spokesman as crackpots or fanatics, to define ethnic claims as
nonissues, to forecast the disastrous economic consequences of separation,
and to undermine confidence in the movement by depicting its language and
culture as backward, unable to survive on its own, and unworthy of
international recognition. This form of ridicule can be both sophisticated and
83
Yinger, p.154.

32
effective the eventual consequence, however, is to sensitize members of the
dominated ethnic community to their identity and their grievances.84

Since the nationalism of established states is the dominant ideology, the ethnic

particularism, which is embraced by the participants of the ethnoregional movements,

is considered backward and even subversive.85Therefore, it is generally regarded as a

threat to its national ideology. Also, when ethnoregional demands focus more on

economic issues, the central state, as Esman mentions, prefers not to take any

initiatives in order to not change its centralist economic policy, since this will be seen

as a weakness against the ethnoregional movement. With regard to assimilation,

repression is finally used, different from the pacification of the early stage of nation-

building process which was mentioned above.

Seen as a remedial policy, repression usually involves outlawing or limiting

the activities of political or even cultural organizations, banning publications,

harassing or imprisoning, ethnoregional leaders and activities, refusing to legitimate

the use of local languages, and excluding minority representatives from positions of

political authority.86 As will be seen in the next chapters, assimilation, according to

our categorization in Figure 2, as a combination of neglect, denial, ridicule,

sensitization of the population and finally, repression was used in the 1960s in terms

of Kurdish ethnoregional demands.

Robert Dahl rightfully argues that when hegemonic regimes are suddenly

displaced by regimes that provide greater opportunities for opposition, the political

preferences and latent oppositions that have been dammed up spout forth like water

84
Esman, p381.
85
Ibid., p387.
86
Ibid., p.381-382.

33
through a collapsing dam.87 Correspondingly, a relatively more democratic

atmosphere and greater opportunities not only pave the way to many ethnoregional

movements, like the Kurdish ethnoregional movement in Turkey, but also encourage

them for further political and social changes.

Accommodation, unlike assimilation, is a policy which pays more attention to

easing ethnoregional discontents. In terms of the central states response to minority

group aspirations, Mikesell and Murphy argue that, in fact, desire for recognition

alone, described as the most benign expression of minority-group aspiration, may also

entail conflict if such recognition is denied. 88 Especially, after assimilation has been

used for many years it becomes quite hard to adapt any of above-mentioned policies

such as recognition or access and so on. However, as Esman argues, when the central

elites are unwilling to pay the price in conflict and violence that enforced assimilation

may bring, accommodation is tolerated. 89

Accommodation, as Table 1 has shown, requires a pile of policies for each

possible step. First, concessional methods involve the recognition of regional claims

of economic deprivation and provision of subsidies or financial assistance to foster

economic development on the one hand, involve recognition of group language and

special cultural institutions along with anti-discrimination laws on the other.90 As

Esman points out, where grievances are more cultural than economic, central

governments may accept the use of ethnoregional languages in public schools, in

87
Robert A. Dahl, Introduction, in Regimes and Oppositions, ed. Robert A. Dahl, (New
haven and London: Yale university Press, 1973), p.10.
88
Mikesell and Murphy, p.58.
89
Esman, p.380.
90
See Table-1.

34
local and regional governments, and, for limited purposes, even in the structures of

the political center. 91

Such concessional forms of accommodation do not require any structural

changes or the distribution forms of power within unitary states. Concessional

methods, recognition, access and participation can also be seen as what Habermas

calls shared political space, or public sphere which enables every part of society,

or all components of a nation-state to participate into politics and articulate their

wishes. 92

Finally, since the defense of the integrity of the territorial space, as in all

nationalist projects, is the medium through which the coherence, identity, and power

of the collective subject is known and narrated,93 structural methods are, of course,

the most troubled phase of accommodation. Structural forms of accommodation,

although they might differ depending on the situation, separation, autonomy and

independence in general, need structural adjustments that allow confederalism,

federalism, regional autonomism, regional administration or decentralization. As

Esman stresses, regimes usually with great reluctance, are compelled to resort to

these adjustments. 94 Since it is beyond the scope of this study and was not the case

in the 1960s in Turkey, I do not go in detail with each of the aforementioned

adjustments. However, one point worth mentioning here is that structural forms of

91
Esman, pp.381-382.
92
Jrgen Habermas, Citizenship and National Identity, in The Condition of Citizenship,
ed. Bart van Steenbergen (London: Sage, 1994), pp.290291.
93
Friedland, p.396.
94
Esman, pp.381-382.

35
accommodation are usually determined by the intensity of the movement, to wit, by

the power and ability of the ethnoregional movement rather than states preferences.95

Political Parties, the Left and Ethnoregional Movements

My purpose in this section is to examine political parties as essential

agencies of mobilization, having a historical role in shaping states in ethnoregional

movements.96 In his pioneering study, Duverger argues that a party is not a

community but a collection of communities, a union of small groups dispersed

throughout the country and linked by coordinating institutions.97 This definition, as

we will see in the next chapters, seems to be appropriate in the Turkish case in terms

of political parties, especially in the Turkish Labor Party.

In many countries that have multiethnic populations, political parties address

constituencies comprised of more than one ethnicity. Ethnicity-based parties, argue

Gunter and Diamond, instead of focusing on society as a whole, goals and strategies

are narrower to promote the interests of a particular ethnic group, or coalition of

groups. And unlike national parties, they are content using existing state structures to

channel benefits towards their particularistically defined electoral clientele.98

95
This has been studied as irredentism, which includes a claim of the territory of an
independent state. For this discussions see, David Carment and Patrick James, Internal
Constraints and Interstate Ethnic Conflict: Toward a Crisis-Based Assessment of
Irredentism, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 39, no. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 82109.
96
G. Bingham Powell, Jr., p.863.
97
Maurice Duverger, Political Parties; Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State,
trans. Barbara and Robert North, (London: University Paperback, 1964), p.17.
98
Gunter and Diamond, p.186.

36
In the Turkish case, unless the particular emphasize is given to ethnicity,

Turkish ethnicity is mentioned in party policies and as the leitmotif of the Turkish

party system, it seems to be almost impossible to understand why the Left in general,

and the TLP in particular, was unwilling to affiliated with the Kurds initially or,

although it is different from the former, with the Alevis in Turkey. Horowitz states

that in an ethnic party system, the choice for a Left party is to adopt and become

essentially an ethnic party or to wither and die.99 If they do not become essentially an

ethnic party, leftist parties usually show much interest in ethnic conflicts on the one

hand, and regional underdevelopment of a region or a country as a whole on the

other.

As is well known, there is no theory of nationalism in Marxism. 100 According

to Marx and Engels, national differences among peoples will gradually die out as

economic intercourse among nations grows. 101 Moreover, they view nationalism as a

fading phenomenon, while they urge the proletariat to establish itself as the nation.102

In its battle to become the national class, the proletariat will have to win over the

"intermediate elements" of society the peasants, small businessmen, the intellectuals

and assimilate them into a single class, the proletariat.103 While class struggle is the

main concern of Marxism, nationalism and ethnicity generally are seen as follows:

Until recently, there was considerable consensus among many Marxist and
non-Marxist scholars that ethnicity reflected the conditions of traditional
society, in which people lived in small communities isolated from one another

99
Horowitz, p.338.
100
Umut zkrml, Milliyetilik Kuramlar (stanbul: Sarmal Yaynlar, 1999), p.41-42.
101
Neil A. Martin, Marxism, Nationalism, and Russia, Journal of the History of Ideas, 29,
no. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1968), p.231.
102
Ibid., p. 252.
103
Ibid., p.234.

37
and in which mass communications and transportation were limited. Many
expected that industrialization, urbanization, and the spread of education
would reduce ethnic consciousness, and that universalism would replace
particularism. Marxists were certain that socialism would mean the end of the
ethnic tension and consciousness that exited in pre-socialist societies.104

In agreement with the Communist Manifestos mottos, the ultimate goal of

communism seems to be internationalist only on the surface. Anti-imperialism was

the notion seemed to get many communists around one plan which was indicated in

Manifesto; Proletariats of all lands unite!105 Lenin writes,

The proletariat of the oppressor nations must not confine themselves to


general stereotyped phrases against annexation and in favor of the equality of
nations in general, such as any pacifist bourgeois will repeat. The proletariat
cannot remain silent on the question of the frontiers of a state founded on
national oppression, a question so unpleasant for the imperialist bourgeoisie.
The proletariat must struggle against the enforced retention of oppressed
nations within the bounds of the given state, which means that they must fight
for the right to self-determination. The proletariat must demand freedom of
political separation for the colonies and nations oppressed by their own
nation. Otherwise, the internationalism of the proletariat would be nothing but
empty words; neither confidence nor class solidarity would be possible
between the workers of the oppressed and oppressed nations106

In spite of Lenins clarion message for fighting by the side of oppressed

nations, meaning national minorities, it must be noted that the aim is the proletariat

nation, rather than prioritizing national self-determination. The idea of self-

determination was embraced by many movements even those not socialist in essence.

However, as Hobsbawn asserts, although anti-imperialist revolutionaries were

internationalist in rhetoric, actually they were not interested in anything but the

liberation of their countries. 107 In other words, the abstract formulations on

104
Jalali and Lipset, p. 585.
105
Bertram D. Wolfe, Nationalism and Internationalism in Marx and Engels,American
Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 17, No. 4 (December, 1958), p.404.
106
Lenin, Selected Works, quoted in zcan, p.49.
107
Hobsbawn, p.177.

38
internationalism are forgotten as soon as it comes to the concrete questions of day-to-

day national policy.108 As can be clearly observed in the TLP and other socialist and

communist groups case of the 1960s in Turkey, their internationalism and to a

certain extent, anti-imperialist rhetoric were confined to national issues, such as

criticism of foreign credits or full independence of Turkey. In fact, anti-imperialist

rhetoric of socialism and communism, that is to say to govern its own destiny along

with the emphasis on development in terms of economy were the features of

socialism and communism of the 1960s that seemed most attractive for the

ethnoregional movements.

Activists of ethnoregional movements, as Esman emphasizes, mainly in the

Western World, have demonstrated a leftist strain in their rhetoric. The struggle for

socialism, they proclaim, is an essential complement to the struggle for national

liberation.109 This approach is in agreement with Marxisms approach to

nationalism. Socialism alone, by putting its emphasis mostly on class lines, did not

virtually meet ethnoregional demands. Thus, when socialist parties which are

organized to do battle on class lines get involved into the ethnoregional movements

would be compelled to change their policy and to some extent, the identity of the
110
enemy in some cases. In other words, so long as ethnic grievances are more

prominent than economic ones in the ethnoregional movements, if a socialist party

wants to benefit from the movement, it cannot advocate bridging ethnic grievances by

building alliances across only class lines. 111

108
Wolfe, p.15.
109
Esman, p.379.
110
Horowitz, p.334.
111
Ibid., p.337.

39
It can be concluded that both the ethnoregional movements and socialist

parties are likely to change their discourses depending on the circumstances. In time,

ethnoregional movements may see socialism as the only way to obtain ethnic and

cultural demands, while socialist parties may opt to include ethnicity and ethnic

demands into their rhetoric. When it is deemed to invest in the affiliation between

socialist parties and ethnoregional movements, as been pointed out above, after

ethnoregional movements experience some success, become more conspicuous. This

affiliation which can be termed ethnosocialist, blends the ethnic demands of the

ethnoregional movements and the socialist rhetoric of economic development.

40
CHAPTER TWO

A POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND FOR THE KURDISH


ETHNOREGIONAL MOVEMENT

In this chapter, the historical evolution of Kurdish nationalism and the Turkish

nation-state are analyzed. After touching on the single-party era developments, the

emphasis is put on multi-party era developments in general and its effects on the

Kurds self-awareness and their way of life. The historical arrest of 49 prominent

Kurdish intellectuals and students is examined and an evaluation of the state policy

on Kurdish and Eastern issue is questioned.

The Kurds and Their Aspiration; A Historical Background

Recently it has been argued that there has been no dramatic break in the

continuity of Turkish history. The legacy of the 1908 movement, it is argued, is

crucial to understanding the subsequent reforms of the Kemalist single-party era, just

as the latter period is pivotal to understanding the multi-party Turkey. 112 The Young

Turk movement, composed of all those who were against Abdulhamid II, through

their organization, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), took over in July

1908 and remained in power until 1918. Although the movement promised equality to
113
all Ottoman subjects without distinction of religion and race, these promises were

never carried out. Initially Ottomanist, namely a patriotism based on the Ottoman

112
Feroz Ahmad, The Making of Modern Turkey (London and New York: Routledge, 1993),
p.48.
113
Uriel Heyd, Foundation of Turkish Nationalism; the Life and Teachings of Ziya Gkalp,
(London: Luzac& Company LTD and the Harvill Press LTD, 1950), p.130.

41
millet system as soon after the Unionist take over, they began to pursue an intensive

policy of cultural and economic Turkification.114 In this sense, the Young Turk era

can be seen as the initiator of the Turkification process and the background to the

Kemalist ideology.

The transformation of connotations of the term Trk is a history of the

nation-building process in Turkey. In the millet system of the Ottoman Empire, the

term Trk used to have derogatory reference to the ignorant peasant or nomad of

Anatolia.115 First emerging as an intellectual movement, Turkish nationalism which

not only glorified the past but also promised a better future to its followers, invented

the modern term Trk. Contrary to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious structure of

the Ottoman Empire, in which identity was not formulated on ethnic foundations, was

politicized, especially after 1908 when Turkist-nationalist thinkers moved out of the

academic realm in order to articulate political ideas and to systematize them into an

ideology.116 The conversion from Ottomanism to Turkism paved the way to a

politicized perception of the term Turk. It also should be mentioned that nationalism

was the key idea for other millets (nations) even earlier than for Turks. In other

words, the Empire went through a nationalist wave and Turkish nationalism was

quite late among other nationalisms such as Greek and Arab nationalisms.

Kurdish nationalism, as an attempt to politicize and bring all Kurds together

under a broader sense of belonging, can be traced back to the early twentieth century.

Initially, it was cherished by a tiny group of Kurdish intellectuals whose objectives

114
For the early Turkist periodicals and associations, see Heyd, p.109110.
115
David Kushner, Self-Perception and Identity in Contemporary Turkey, Journal of
Contemporary History, 32, no. 2 (April, 1997), p.219.
116
Mehmet Ali Aaoullar, The Ultranationalist Right, In Turkey in Transition; New
Perspectives. eds. Irvin C. Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1987), p.178.

42
did not deviate much from those of their Turkish counterparts. The Kurdish

intelligentsia, using the press as a crucial instrument in spreading their ideas in

auspices of awakening the Kurdish people as their Turkish counterparts,117 could not

go beyond small circles. Traditionally, as it was soldiers who were prominent in

Turkish politics starting from the late nineteenth century, Bruinessen points out that

in virtually all Kurdish parties and organizations the traditional leading stratum, aghas

and sheiks played leading roles.118 It is striking that in Kurdistan, the first Kurdish

journal, most of the time the writings started with O, Aghas and Sheiks of the

Kurds119 and the main purpose seemed to deal with them rather than the Kurdish

society. The nationalism prompted by them was, to a large extent a sort of

Ottomanism by which they endeavored to integrate with the center rather than

separate.120

This approach, however, especially after the Young Turks took over and

began a Turkification process, changed. For instance, in Roji Kurd (Kurdish Days),

monthly the journal of the Hevi (Hope) association published in 1913, great attention

was put on Kurdish society. Their objective was to educate and enlighten the Kurdish

people in contrast to Kurdistan.121 Since both those who were associated with

117
Martin Strohmeir, Crucial Images in the Presentation of a Kurdish National Identity:
Heroes and Patriots, Traitors and Foes, (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2003), p.ix.
118
Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh and State; the Social and Political Structures of Kurdistan,
p.316.
119
Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, (trans.), Kurdistan: Rojnama Kurdi ya Pein (Ilk Krd
Gazetesi,)1898-1902, Cild I, (n.p, n.d.)
120
Krt Teavun Cemiyeti, for example, the first association that was established by the
Kurds in 1909, was a very good example of it. See Tark Zafer Tunaya Trkiyede Siyasi
Partiler, (stanbul: n.p. 1952), p.429.
121
For example, in the second issue, they introduced Latin alphabet and showed how to use
it. For Latin transcription see, Belgeyn Kurdi:1/3, Kovara Roji Kurd/1913, Weanen
WAR, Istanbul: 2002.

43
Kurdistan and Roji Kurd did not have to deal with the existence of the Kurds, they

were preoccupied with how they could bring the Kurdish people to the same level of

civilization. Ltfi Fikri, who was not Kurdish, wrote, Today no one questions who is

a Kurd, an Arab or an Albanian. The acknowledgement of existence of those nations

was a requirement of social laws. 122

However, Kurdish nationalism as well as Turkish nationalism cannot be

thought of without mentioning the role of Islam. As Friedland points out, religion and

nationalism partake of a common symbolic order and that religious nationalism is

therefore not an oxymoron.123 Furthermore, as Hobsbawn argues, that religion

paradoxically serves as cement for nationalisms. 124 As Martin Strohmeir points out,

the Kurds were first Muslims, then Ottomans; their Kurdish identity was subordinated

to the other two.125 It is quite apparent in both above-mentioned journals and in Jin

(Life), published between 1918 and 1919. Jin, a bilingual Kurdish and Turkish

journal, is important not only because it represents an amalgamation of ethnicity and

religion, but also conjures up the preliminary effects of the process of denial of

Kurdish ethnicity as a distinct from that of the Turks. In the seventh issue, in

response to the question that are city dwellers in Kurdistan Turks? (Krdistandaki

ehirler Sekenesi Trk mdr?), it is argued that even there were no Turks in

122
Bugn kimse Arap nedir, Arnavut nedir, Krd nedir, demiyor ve bunlarin neler demek
olduklarini pek guzel anliyor....er ge o milliyetlerin varln kabul etmek mecburiyetinin
zorunlu oluu, sosyal kanunlarn gerei idi. Ltfi Fikri, Krd Milliyeti, Roji Kurd,
Hejmar-4 in Weanen WAR, Belgeyn Kurdi:1/3, Kovara Roji Kurd/1913, (Istanbul: War,
2002), p.98.
123
Roger Friedland, Money, Sex, and God: The Erotic Logic of Religious Nationalism,
Sociological Theory, 20, no. 3 (November, 2002), p. 381.
124
Hobsbawn, Milletler ve Milliyetilik, p.83.
125
Strohmeir, p.39.

44
Kurdistan.126 The Kurdish language and history are glorified, and a call for working

only for their nation is made.

It is a widely held view that Kurdish nationalism developed in reaction to

dominant nationalisms of the Turks, Persians and Arabs and their nation-states and

has been both stimulated by their development and restricted by their hegemony.

Also, as Entessar argues, the formation of the modern nation-state system in the

Middle East in the aftermath of collapse of the Ottoman Empire led the growth of the

politicization of Kurdish ethnicity. 127 This early politicization of the Kurdish ethnicity

was mainly confined to a small circle of Kurdish intelligentsia. And the bulk of the

population, just like the Turks, did not identify themselves with the wishes advocated

in the above-mentioned journals.

The transformation of the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Ottoman Empire

into nation-states, where identities were based on ethnicities did not affect the

majority of the Kurds, yet it led to the politicization of the Kurdish intellectuals

identity.128 Nevertheless, it did not lead them to think of themselves as apart from the

Ottoman realm. In other words, as opposed to what is commonly believed, their

aspirations were to remain within the Ottoman system in general. Having defeated

external forces, the Kemalists turned their faces to any kind of internal opposition to

their nation-state project. In order to not only to unite the scattered dimensions of

national identity around the ideology of a nation-state, but also to enforce the rule of

the elites, as Renan stressed, both the possession of rich remembrances and a shared

126
M. Emin Bozarslan, (trans.), Jin: Kovara Kurdi-Tirki (Krte-Trke Dergi), 1918-1919,
Cild 2, (Uppsala: Deng Yaynevi, 1985), pp.332-339.
127
Entessar, p.1.
128
M. Hakan Yavuz, Five Stages of the Construction of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey
Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 7, no.3, (Autumn 2001), p.1.

45
amnesia, a collective forgetfulness129 were utilized to create the new man or citizen of

the state. Using the judiciary machinery of the state, in the new Turkish republic

many laws and regulations, including the Constitution, aimed at accomplishing

national unity. Kemalism, as Stephane Yerasimos pointed out, as the official ideology

of the Turkish nation-state, was presented as the only possible path, justifying every

action by the past not only during the single-party era, but it became as the

ideological model and framework for the state.130

The ambiguity of Republican Turkey in terms of its identity perception,

demonstrates that the nationalism of nation-states requires some imagination some

forgetting on the past of the people who do not identify themselves with the national

identity. One of the most important features of Turkish nationalism of the Republican

era was that it endeavored to break away from the Turanist and Islamist aspirations of

the Ottoman Era. On the other hand, what the Kemalist elites and intellectuals of the

Republic aimed to do was not the awakening of Turks to national consciousness, 131

but rather to create a new man whose identity would be consonant with the

Republics objectives of reaching contemporary Western models of life and

development. This approach required cultural assimilation, which was seen as the

only remedy to bring together the heterogeneous population inherited by the new

nation-state.

129
As a striking example, in the provinces of Mardin 91 percent, in Bitlis, Siirt, Bingl,
Hakkari, Mu and Van, all with a proportion of over 75 percent of new place names were
replaced with Turkish ones. See. Kerem ktem, 'The Nations Imprint: Demographic
Engineering and the Change of Toponymes in Republican Turkey', European Journal of
Turkish Studies, Thematic Issue, no. 7 ( n.d.)| Demographic Engineering - Part I.
130
Stephane Yerasimos, The Monoparty Period, in Turkey in Transition; New
Perspectives, eds. Irvin C. Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1987), pp.66100.
131
Aye Kadolu, The Paradox of Turkish Nationalism and the Construction of Official
Identity. Middle Eastern Studies, 32, no.2. (April 1996) pp.177193.

46
In addition to the abolition of Trk Oca (Turkish Hearth) in 1931 and

establishment of Halk Evi (Peoples Houses) and Halk Odalar (Peoples Rooms) in

1932, (closed down in 1951 by the DP) with the affirmation of the Turkish History

Thesis, the state elites aimed to channel its ideology and to reach the people, to urban

areas generally, in such a manner that under full control of the center a new view of

Turkishness was propagandized. The History Thesis, which puts its great emphasis on

the long glorious history of the Turkish race and ethnicity, along with the Sun

Language Theory which claimed that Turkish was the language from which all other

languages stemmed, were just two of the attempts to provide the base for at least,

educated people to be proud of their identity. 132 However, as erif Mardin points out,

those policies did not attempt to alter the place of the peasant in the system nor did

the nationalist elite do much to establish contact with the rural masses. 133

As Kirii and Winrow stress, the endeavor of the state elites to melt the

territorial nationality and ethnic nationality of the people into a united notion of

citizenship, in simultaneous nation-building and state-building process made it almost

impossible to draw the boundaries of Turkishness. 134 Soner agaptay, in his

important book, summarizes the boundaries of Turkishness, or as he puts it, three

zones of Kemalism as follows:

-the first was territorial; this definition, the most inclusive of the three, was
embodied in the 1924 constitution.

132
Soner agaptay, Islam, Secularism, and Nationalism in Modern Turkey; who is a Turk,(
London: Routledge, 2006), p.52
133
erif Mardin, Center-Periphery Relations: A Key to Turkish Politics? in Political
Participation in Turkey; Historical Background and Present Problems, ed. Engin D. Akarl
with Gabriel Ben-Dor, (stanbul: Boazii University Publications, 1975), pp.7-32
134
Kemal Kirii and Gareth Winrow, The Kurdish Question and Turkey: An Example of a
Trans-State Ethnic Conflict, (London: Frank Cass, 1997), p.12.

47
-the second definition, less inclusive than the first, was religious. Due to the
legacy of the millet system, the Kemalists saw nominal Islam as an avenue
toward Turkishness; all Muslims in Turkey were potential Turks.
-the third, and the least inclusive, definition of Turkishness under High
Kemalism was ethno-religious.135

Assimilation, as a means of creating a homogenous society, was the main

objective of Kemalist in terms of culture. This was, to a large extent, limited to urban

areas. During the single party era (1925-1945), the state had almost absolute power

over the press, individuals, associations, etc; moreover, this was granted by newly

adopted laws.136Along with the abolition of both the Sultanate (November 1, 1922)

and the Caliphate (March 1, 1924), the proclamation of republic (November 29,

1923), one of the most important laws passed by the assembly in 1925 worth

mentioning is the Law for the maintenance of order. This law gave the legal authority

to deal not with only with the Kurdish rebellion in the east, but also all political

opponents.137

The Kemalists, like their predecessors, the Young Turks, especially after the

consolidation of their power or the internal pacification, embarked on an intensive

policy of assimilation. In the meantime, in order to achieve this many people who

previously had been a part of the state machinery and were members of the assembly

were excluded from power. This attitude also had a great impact on subsequent

resistance to the center. In my opinion, this was after the suppression of the first

major Kurdish rebellion in 1925, in which for the mass of participants, as Bruinessen

135
agaptay, p.159.
136
Blent Tanr, Osmanl ve Trk Anayasal Gelimeleri (stanbul: Cogito, 3rd edition,
1999), pp.318-319.
137
Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London: Oxford University Press,
1968), p.275.

48
138
argues, religious and nationalist loyalties were not separated from each other.

During this period, as Mesut Yeen stresses, any attempt to resist the policy of the

consolidation of power by the Kemalist elites would have been labeled reactionary. 139

During the single-party era, according to a military source, 18 uprisings,

except for one that took place in Menemen, took place against the center by the

Kurds.140 Though most of them were small scale, three of them are worth mentioning:

the Sheik Said Rebellion (1925), the Ar Rebellion, (1926-1927-1930) and the

Dersim Rebellion (1937-39). There were, to a large extent, no coherent nationalist

sentiments, but rather local and tribal unrests. Except for Azadi (Independence)

established in 1921, both organized and took part in Sheik Said Rebellion in 1925 and

Xoybun (stay origin) established in 1927, took part in Ar Rebellion 1930. These

rebellions lacked of a united front, the way that they expressed their aspiration was

somehow ambivalent. In addition to the Kemalists hostility to any Kurdish

organization, the use of leading positions among the Kurdish elites, the states

approach to Islam, to wit the abolition of the Caliphate, which had connected the two

peoples together were the major reasons for those rebellions in insurgents view. 141

The reaction of the Kemalist center to the rebellions would influence how

other groups, such as Communists, viewed them, too. Equally significant is the way

138
Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh and State; the Social and Political Structures of Kurdistan,
p.299.
139
Mesut Yeen, Devlet Syleminde Krt Sorunu (stanbul: letiim Yaynlar, 2006), p.141.
140
Em. Kurmay Albay Reat Halli, Trkiye Cumhuriyetinde Ayaklanmalar 1924-1938
(Ankara: Genelkurmay Harp Dairesi Yayinlari, 1972) quoted in Mete Tunay, Trkiye
Cumhuriyetinde Tek Parti Ynetiminin Kurulmas, 1923-1931 (stanbul: Tarih Vakf Yurt
Yaynlar, 4th edition, 2005), p.134.
141
For an excellent analysis of these rebellions, see Hamit Bozarslan, Kurdish Nationalism
in Turkey: From Tacit Contract to Rebellion (1919-1925), in Essays on the Origins of
Kurdish Nationalism, ed. Abbas Vali (California: Mazda Publishers, 2003), pp. 163190.

49
in which the state presented the Kurdish rebellions and sought to legitimize the states

claims and justify its domination and absolute use of power. 142 They, the rebellions,

were framed as having been instigated by foreign powers and as threats to the

national integrity of the Turkish Republic and a counter-revolution to Kemalism. As

Horowits rightly argues, ethnic conflict was often treated as if it were a manifestation
143
of something else rather than any references to the ethnicity itself. The part that

was missing in the presentation of these rebellions by the Kemalist was the ethnic

characteristics, albeit not prominent, which I mentioned earlier that were interwoven

with religion.

After each rebellion, the government used massive deportation144 and banned

anything that might be associated with Kurdishness, regarding it as feudal and

reactionary.145 As already mentioned, it led to the third and the least inclusive

definition of Turkishness, the ethno-religious definition of Turkishness. Gradually,

the Turkish public sphere was cleared both of Islam and of Kurds. Those who

participated in Turkish politics no longer had to advocate for either of them. All those

efforts and emphasis put on centralization and secularization of the public sphere, as

Kirii and Winrow argue, contributed to the spread of Kurdish ethnic awareness.146

However, due to the success of the center in suppressing those rebellions and by not

142
Yavuz, p.8.
143
Horowitz, p.13.
144
Resettlement Laws, especially one in 1934, which divided the country into four regions
and aimed to disperse those Kurds who either participated in rebellions or did not show clear
obedience to the center into first two regions where Turkish culture was dominant is worth
mentioning here. See 2510 sayili Iskan Kanunu, quoted in Celadet Ali Bedirxan (1933), Bir
Krt Aydnndan Mustafa Kemale Mektup, (stanbul. Doz Yaynclk, 1992), p.81.
145
zcan, p.85.
146
Kirii and Winrow, p.101.

50
allowing any kind of articulation and expression of resisting ideas while rewarding

those who collaborated with the center, Kurdish ethnic awareness did not become

politicized at large scale until the 1960s.

As Strohmeir points out, the main problem between Kurds and the Turkish

Republic derived from the states perception of Kurds and their way of life. 147 The

very existence of the Kurds would not be acknowledged since they were seen as

pure Turks who had somehow forgotten their Turkishness and thought of

themselves as Kurds. As a matter of fact, despite all, the state elite did not do much in

order to make Kurds believe that argument. The Kurdish region, excepting some

developments, was governed by special methods.148 Furthermore, the tacit

agreement which was the main policy of the Ottoman center over the Kurdish areas,

was continued. On the other hand, the question of security and control seemed to be

more important than anything else. For instance, as Donald Everett Webster wrote in

1939, after three rather serious revolts in the Kurdish region, the government is still

talking about reforms for these people, and a part of the reforms is the building of

karakols (gendarme stations). 149

To sum up, what is true is that except for those rebellions, the majority of the

Kurdish population remained aloof from politics in general and from nationalistic

discourse in terms of both Turkish and Kurdish nationalisms. It is also important that

even the party branches of the ruling single party, the Republican Peoples Party were

147
Strohmeir, p.3.
148
Inspectorate Generals for example, which were decided to be established throughout the
country, in practice, however, the Inspectorates were created only in regions that were
considered strategic or turbulent areas by Ankara, or had witnessed Kurdish uprisings.
agaptay, p.47.
149
Donald Everett Webster, The Turkey of Atatrk; Social Process in the Turkish
Reformation (Philadelphia: The American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1939),
p.282.

51
set up in almost none of provinces where the Kurds overwhelmingly lived. Kurdish

nationalism, on the other hand, even during those rebellions could not reach the

masses and did not have a coherent discourse in many respects. The Kemalists

succeeded in eliminating the last segment of Kurdish nationalists either by executing

them or having them exiled to other countries such as Syria.

Moreover, Kurdish reactions also paved the way of getting rid of any

opposition in Turkey for almost two decades, that is to say until 1940s, when the new

opposition came from within the state elite and demanded further relaxations in terms

of political and economic liberalism. Equally significant is that the countryside would

continue to be suspected as separatist and reactionary. 150 With respect to subsequent

developments, it is also worth mentioning that these rebellions and their suppression

would give the Kurds a strong sense of a shared past which would also be used in the

1960s when the new Kurdish generation, rediscovered the past.

The Multi-Party Era

After two decades of single-party rule, due to a number of reasons, such as

international pressures, social structural changes, the personal belief system and

leadership of smet nn (successor of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the president of

the republic after 1938),151 the Turkish Republic adopted a multi-party political

system in 1945. As Asm Kararmerliolu points out, the willingness and enthusiasm

150
erif Mardin, Center-Periphery Relations: A Key to Turkish Politics? in Political
Participation in Turkey; Historical Background and Present Problems, ed. Engin D. Akarl
with Gabriel Ben-Dor (Istanbul: Boazii University Publications, 1975), pp.7-32.
151
Cemil Koak, Parliament Membership during the Single-Party System in Turkey,
(1925-45) European Journal of Turkish Studies, Thematic Issue No 3, available online at:
http://www.ejts.org/document497.html

52
of the ruling elites, especially of nn, for a multi-party system was mainly because

the ruling elites envisaged keeping such a development in a controlled, limited, top-

down manner by which he and his entourage could still maintain their privileged

position in a new and different political manner.152

However, the 1950 general elections that brought the Democrat Party (DP) to

power marked the beginning of the emergence of new social groups in the political

arena and the end of the unity of the state elite. The DP was the predominant political

party in all three general elections that were held in 1950, 1954 and in 1957. The

secret of the DP success at the polls during the 1950-1960 period came from its

constant attention to the benefits of the peasantry.153 As alar Keyder writes, for

the first time in Turkeys politics, the peasantry became an active force that had to be

won over. 154 Another point worth mentioning is that the party itself, by establishing

local branches, was an effective instrument in introducing the masses to politics. For

instance, until the decision of the DP to open branches in the east provinces, the RPP

had virtually no organizations in the eight provinces overwhelmingly inhabited by

Kurds.155

The most significant outcome of the initial multi-party period was the

integration of the peasantry, more than 70 per cent of the population, and urban

masses into the political and economic life of the country. Meanwhile, in terms of

152
Asm Karamerliolu, Turkeys return to multi-party politics: a social interpretation,
East European Quarterly, March 22, 2006, pp. 89107.
153
Szyliowicz, Joseph S, The Political Dynamics of Rural Turkey, Middle East Journal
16, no.4 (1962), p.430.
154
alar Keyder, The Political Economy of Turkish Democracy, in Turkey in Transition;
New Perspectives, eds. Irvin C. Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford
University Press,1987), pp. 2765.
155
Webster, p.177.

53
demography, mass migration from countryside to towns and rapid urbanization

accelerated the transformation of society into a much more mobile one. Meanwhile,

the economy as a whole grew at a rapid rate of between 11 and 13 per cent during the

DP rule.156As a result of the liberal economic policies, the rural areas became

increasingly market-oriented.

Frederick Frey, in his important study about the Turkish political elite,

brings our attention to the the new man in Turkish politics whose main focus was

concentrated to local considerations, free enterprise and religious freedom rather a


157
man who prioritized the national problems and a forced top-down reforms. In

addition to above-mentioned social, political and economic developments, Freys

emphasis on the shift of the new actors in Turkish politics is relevant in the Kurdish

case too. For instance, politicians visited small towns and villages and attempted to

persuade the local people that they had political importance. As for the Kurds, as

Abdulmelik Firat, Sheik Saids grandson and who became a member of parliament,

notes in his memoirs, during the 1950s some candidates spoke Kurdish to the people

when they went to villages.158

What changed during the DP era in terms of the Kurds was not the

states standpoint or policies but rather the entry of a new group of Kurdish aghas and

sheiks into politics, which meant a great challenge to those local notables who had

not previously faced any competition in order to gain parliamentary seats. It is

generally agreed that local notables from the region did not have any loyalty to the

156
Eric Jan Zrcher, Turkey: A Modern History (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1994),
p.235.
157
Frederick Frey, The Turkish Political Elite (Cambridge: Massachusetts: The M.I.T Press,
1965), p.197.
158
Abdlmelik Frat, Frat Mahzun Akar (stanbul: Avesta, 1996), p.51.

54
parties and they changed parties easily or ran against the parties as independents.

Therefore, the idea that the DP was preferred because of its policy on the Kurds, as

already mentioned in the previous chapter, does not seem conceivable since the party

policies did not have a great influence on the political alignments in the region up

until the mid-1960s.

Equally significant is that during the DP era, the dominance of Islam was

reinforced in the region. For example, after 1950, within a year, 250,000 Quran and

thousands of religious books, many of which aimed to lessen Kurdish nationalism,


159
were sold in the region. On the other hand, as already mentioned, the Turkish

republic as a whole became more market-oriented and a new network of railroads as

well as mechanization of agriculture not only stimulated the emergence of new social

groups but also changed the social and economic structure of the country.

Finally, communism and socialism was declared illegal and in January 1951,

the largest campaign of arrests of communists, known as 1951 Tevkifati (the arrest of

1951), attested that there was no room for the Left in multi-party politics in Turkey.
160
Meanwhile, several new Turkist organizations such as Trk Kltr Oca (Hearth

of Turkish Culture), Trk Genlik Tekilat (Turkish Youth Organization), Trk

Kltr Dernei (Turkish Cultural Association), Milliyetiler Birlii Federasyonu

(Federation of Union of Nationalists) were permitted to appear.161 Although the

political spectrum would be partly open to the Left after the May 27, 1960 coup

159
Kemal H. Karpat, Trk Demokrasi Tarihi; Sosyal, Ekonomik, Kltrel Temeller
(stanbul: stanbul Matbaas, 1967), p.244.
160
Cem Eroul, The Establishment of Multiparty Rule: 194571, in Turkey in Transition;
New Perspectives, eds. Irvin C. Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1987), p.109.
161
Aye Neviye alar, The Greywolves as Metaphor, in Turkish State, Turkish Society,
eds. Andrew Finkel and Nukhet Sirman (London and New York: Routledge, 1990), p.84

55
dtat, in addition to the above-mentioned organizations, rightist politics would be

encouraged by new association, such as Komnizmle Mcadele Dernekleri (the

Struggle with the Communism Associations), too.

Especially after the 1954 election, factors such as the oppressive press laws,

the anti-Greek riot in Istanbul (6-7 September 1955), the increase of prices and cost

of living, and the governments inability or unwillingness to contain the deteriorating

economic and financial position162 led to discomfort among the people. For instance,

inflation increased to 40 percent by 1958. All those developments led to the

crumbling of support among city-dwellers and intellectuals and affected especially

wage earner civil servants and army officers, who as we will see, would be very

angry to the DP rule and paved the way toward the 1960 military intervention.

The End of a New Beginning: the Event of 49s in 1959

In December1959, five months before the military coup dtat, 52 Kurdish

intellectuals, almost half of them students, were arrested for being involved in

separatist, and communist activities. Since two of those arrested were not put in jail

and a student, Emin Batu, died, the number was reduced to 49, the number by which
163
this pivotal event would be remembered. Despite the controversies about why it

162
Richard D. Robinson, The First Turkish Republic A Case Study in National
Development (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), p.190.
163
They were: evket Turan, Naci Kutlay, Ali Karahan, Koo Elbistan, Yavuz amlbel,
Mehmet Ali Dinler, Yusuf Kaar, Nurettin Ylmaz, Ziya erefhanolu, Medet Serhat, Hasan
Akku, rfi Akkoyunlu, Selim Klolu, ahabettin Septiolu, Said Eli, Said
Krmztoprak, Yaar Kaya, Faik Sava, Haydar Aksu, Ziya Acar, Fadl Budak, Halil
Demirel, Esat Cemilolu, Ferit Bilen, Mustafa Nuri Direkigil, Fevzi Avar, Necati
Siyahkan, Hasan Ulus, Nazmi Balka, Hseyin Ouz ok, Mehmet Nazm idem, Fevzi
Kartal, Mehmet Aydemir, Abdurrahman Efem Dolak, Musa Anter, Canip Yldrm, Emin
Kotan, kke Karada, Muhsin avata, Turgut Akn, Stk Elbistan, erafettin Eli, Mustafa
Ramanl, Mehmet zer, Feyzullah Demirta, Cezmi Balka, Halil Yoku, smet Balka,

56
happened, it is obvious that the arrest of the 49ers was a milestone in the modern

Kurdish movement. According to Abdlmelik Frat, grandson of Sheik Said, a deputy

in the assembly at that time, in a meeting in which prime minister Adnan Menderes,

president Celal Bayar, and some generals were present, the Commander of the Army

presented a secret report about the East which claimed that Kurds were about to rebel

against the state. Although most of politicians did not agree with that allegation, they

decided to arrest at least some of those Kurdish activists who stood out. 164

In the same period, Turkey, as a result of its close relations with the United

States after the end of World War II, became ever more oppressive towards the

communist and socialist movements. According to Naci Kutlay, both one of the 49s

and later a prominent figure in the TLP, the main reason behind the arrest was the

intention of the government to present it to the United States and the Western public

opinion as a Communist Kurdish movement in order to get the aid it needed from

the United States. The Red aspect of the arrests, rather than its Kurdist (Krt)
165
face was the side that was presented in the media to the people of Turkey. In

making the arrests, as Gndoan correctly points out, the government planned to kill

two birds with one stone. It would force the USA to grant the country a loan and at

the same time put a break on the development of Kurdish activism, which was seen as

Said Bingl, Mehmet Bilgin, Fethullah Kakiolu. Naci Kutlay, 49lar Dosyas, (stanbul:
Frat, 1994), p.11; and Yavuz amlbel, 49lar Davas: Bir lkenin damlk Krtleri,
(Ankara: Algyayn, 2007), p.109235. In amlbels book, there are many pictures and
detailed information too.
163
alar Keyder, The Political Economy of Turkish Democracy, In Turkey in Transition;
New Perspectives, eds. Irvin C. Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak. (New York: Oxford
University Press,) 1987: 2765.
164
Frat, p.71.
165
Naci Kutlay, 21.Yzyla Girerken Krtler (stanbul: Peri Yaynlar, 2002), pp.533-34.

57
a threat to the discourse of Turkish nationalism by wiping out Kurdish activities in

Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakir.166

Although after the 1960 coup most of the political convicts were given a

pardon, the military junta moved ahead with the trials, which began in January 1961.

Defendants were accused of segregation, secession and communism. 167 Their trial

lasted almost six years and they were in the end acquitted due to lack of evidence. As

for those who were arrested on the grounds that they had been attempting to create an

independent Kurdish state, the disseminating communist ideas, and according to

adillili Vedat, and Cumhuriyet newspaper,168for founding a clandestine party called

the Kurdish independence Party, not only did they deny all accusations, but also

showed no sign of unity.

Musa Anter, who was one of the most influential writers in the 1950s and

1960s, argues in his memoirs that they did not demand anything directly associated

with Kurdishness such as Kurdish cultural rights.169 However, some of them such as

Sait Eli hinted at the reality of a distinct Kurdish culture. According to Derk

Kinnane during the trial of the 49ers, demonstrations took place in Mardin, Derik (a

town in Mardin), Siverek (a town in anlurfa), Diyarbekir, Bitlis and Van and the

marching Kurds carried signs which read We are not Turks, we are Kurds, Down

with Grsel, Menderes, InnAll Tyrants, The Turkish Government must

166
Azad Zana Gndoan, p.87.
167
Milliyet, January 1, 1961, quoted in Malmisanij, p.124.
168
adillili Vedat, Trkiyede Krtlk Hareketleri ve syanlar 1, (Ankara: Kon Yaynlar,
1980), p.231; and Cumhuriyet, May 22, 1966.
169
Anter, Hatralarm, 12, p.172.

58
recognize our national rights.170 Yet, as Mehmet Ali Aslan argues, this does not

seem to be accurate, since many families did not know how to react or what to do

with respect to their childrens arrest. In addition, I have not come across this event

anywhere else.

What is striking is the ideological split, on which almost everybody agrees in

the literature and which divided the 49ers roughly into rightists and leftists. During

the time in the jail, although it was not as evident as a right and left conflict, the way

the activists looked at Kurdish society and its religious and tribal structure also paved

the way to a separate action. Those who considered themselves leftists or Socialists

were Canip Yldrm, Naci Kutlay, Sait Krmztoprak, Musa Anter, rfi Akkoyunlu,

Nazmi Balka and Hasan Akku.171 Subsequently, they would not only play a very

crucial role in the TLP, but also persons such as Sait Krmztoprak, known as Dr.

ivan, would change the course of the Kurdish movement. The class background of

the 49ers will be touched on in the next chapter. For now, the discussion will take a

closer look at the political developments after the military coup.

The Military Coup dtat and the Politics: Tutelage Democracy

The DP followed a relatively different path from that of Kemalism, as

discussed before, by putting its emphasis on the masses and also by relaxing pressures

on religion. In addition to a socioeconomic decline in young officers living standards,

the change in the ruling political elites and the consequences of this shift were

prominent reasons for the military intervention, although it was not mentioned by the
170
Derk Kinnane, The Kurds and Kurdistan (London, New York: Oxford University Press,
1964), p.33.
171
Naci Kutlay, Anlarm (stanbul: Avesta, 1998), p.95.

59
army. 172 Protecting the country from degenerated politicians and safeguarding

Kemalist principles were some of the reasons put forth by those who overthrew the

government, the National Unity Committee (NUC).

The military coup of 27 May 1960 against the DP and the group they

represented symbolized the particular role of the army as the guardians of Kemalist

principles, of tutelage democracy.173 It is worth mentioning that the first military

intervention in politics after Mustafa Kemals success at keeping the army officers under

his control in the mid-1920s, affected especially the new generations of what Ernest

Gellner calls the Kemalist Ulema and bulk of the Leftists up until the late 1960s.174

As Tanel Demirel emphasizes, even though the army was willing to return to

multi-party politics, they never wanted to return to pre-coup conditions.175

Henceforth, in order to prevent their exclusion by a rural majority, a constitution was

designed with the help of prominent political scientists. Despite its progressive

character, especially in terms of civil rights and liberties, the new Constitution

contained elaborate systems of checks and balances which would allow the ruling

elite to repress its opposition.176 The establishment of the Senate and the

Constitutional Court aimed to strengthen this system of checks and balances by

overseeing the legislation and the assembly.


172
Semih Vaner, The Army, in Turkey in Transition; New Perspectives, eds. Irvin C.
Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p.237.
173
Zvi Yehuda Hershlag, The Contemporary Turkish Economy (London; New York:
Routledge, 1988) p.21.
174
Ernest Gellner, The Turkish Option in Comparative Perspective, in Rethinking
Modernity and National Identity in Turkey, eds. Reat Kasaba and Sibel Bozdoan (Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 1997), pp.233-244.
175
Tanel demirel, Adalet Partisi, deolojisi ve Politika (stanbul: letiim Yaynlar, 2004),
p. 27.
176
Dou Ergil, Class Conflict and Turkish Transformation (1950-1975), Studia Islamica,
no. 41 (1975), p. 144.

60
The new Constitution, contrary to previous one, put a great amount of

emphasis on individuals and democracy. Article 12 states that all individuals are

equal before the law, irrespective of language, race, sex, political opinion,

philosophical views, or religion or religious sect. No privileges shall be granted to

any individual, family, group or class.177 It is also concerned with economic issues

such as land reform. Article 37, for example, states that the State shall adopt the

measures needed to achieve efficient utilization of land and to provide land for those

farmers who either have no land, own insufficient land. 178 The other major reform

was a return to economic planning, with the establishment of the State Planning

Organization in 1960 that was to prepare the new Five-Year Development Plans, the

first of which was initiated in 1963. Another article worth mentioning is Article 57,

which defines the conditions for the closure of political parties. Political parties,

which were for the first time regarded apart from other associations, would conform

to the principals of a democratic and secular republic, based on human rights and

liberties, and the fundamental principle of the States territorial and national integrity.

Parties failing to conform to the provisions would be permanently dissolved. 179

When talking about Turkey with regard to its social and political changes in

the first two decades of the multi-party system, first of all, one should emphasize the

politicization of the whole country. For instance, the number of non-religious

associations and clubs jumped from less than 1,000 to 27,000 while religious one

177
Constitution of Turkish Republic, Ankara, 1961 trans. Sadk Balkan, Ahmet E. Uysal and
Kemal H. Karpat, available online at www.anayasa.gen.tr/1961constitution-text.pdf
178
Ibid.,
179
Ibid.,

61
increased from less than 1,000 to about 10,000. 180 Between 1960 and 1970, urban

population increased by 5 million, reaching 39 percent of the total whereas,

unionization increased from 296,000 in 1963 to 1.2 million in 1971 (30 percent of

wage earners), following the liberal clauses of the new constitution.181 Furthermore,

towards the beginning of the 1960s the proletariat of the country numbered about two

million, of whom 600,000 were agriculture workers. After 1960, the Turkish workers

succeeded for the first time in the countrys history at achieving official recognition

of their right to form trade unions and also strike. 182

Despite the above-mentioned changes, the most important sector of society


183
was peasantry since they made up more than 60 per cent of the population. In

terms of party politics, with the adoption in 1961 of a system of proportional

representation, parliament better represented small parties and differences within

society as well.184In addition to the RPP, the four new parties that stood out on the

political scene in the early 1960s were the Justice Party (JP), the New Turkey Party

(NTP), the Turkish Labor Party (TLP), and the re-founded Nation Party (NP).

As Ahmad indicates, despite the coup, neo-Democrats returned. Since the

socio-economic basis of power remained unaltered, the old political forces were

180
Ahmet N. Ycekk, Trkiyede rgtlenmi Dinin Sosyo-Ekonomik Taban (1946-1968)
(Ankara: Sevin Matbaas, 1971), p.132.
181
Keyder, The Political Economy of Turkish Democracy, pp. 48-49.
182
Landau, p.11.
183
Demirel, p.81.
184
William Hale, . The Turkish Army in Politics, 1960-73. In Turkish State, Turkish
Society, eds. Andrew Finkel and Nukhet Sirman, (London; New York: Routledge, 1990),
p.65.

62
bound to come to the front.185 The electoral results between 1961 and 1969 show that

if we add the NTP to the JP, the successors of the DP, the neo-Democrats were

most successful in the elections even during the period between the two military

interventions.

Turkey, between 1960 and 1971, experienced an unprecedented plurality in

terms of participation in politics and the visibility of different kind of social

movements. Although the constitution and other judicial reforms aimed to create a

democratic country, for anyone even remotely acquainted with the 1960s, the

dominance of the military over civil politics as well as the arrest of numerous

publishers and authors, especially those who were involved in socialist and

communist movements, stand out. It is also important that the others of the state

and the regime, namely, anything associated with Kurdish nationalism or the socialist

and communist movements, despite a relative relaxation, were still excluded from

political life.

Keyder, like many other scholars, purports that the 1960s provided an

atmosphere of unusual freedom in Turkey with an almost complete freedom of

expression.186 This argument seems to be untenable in many respects. First of all, the

expression of Kurdish rights was out of the question and the socialist movement,

though not illegal, was under strict control. For instance, several journals and books

about the Kurdish question were either banned or seized and their publishers were

arrested. Likewise, many socialist publications, books, articles etc. cost their authors

185
Feroz Ahmad, The Turkish Experiment in Democracy 19501975, (Boulder: Westview
Press, 1977), p.186.
186
Keyder, The Political Economy of Turkish Democracy, p.52.

63
some times more than six years in prison for violating the penal code, especially the

laws numbered 141 and 142, which prohibited any propaganda of communism.187

As the Barzani movement was gaining momentum, the Turkish authorities

were already alarmed by it. As such, one of the main fears behind the arrest of the

49ers was the return of Mulla Mustafa Barzani to Iraq after many years in the Soviet

Union. In addition to this international development, the authorities, by no means,

wanted to debate the red lines of the regime, that is to say, to face another challenge

by Kurds or socialists to their nation-state project.

Regarding the Kurds in Turkey, the constitution clearly stated that, except for

individual rights, no one could propose any national or cultural demands.

Furthermore, the law on political parties, which was the first law concerning political

parties in Turkey, explicitly banned any claims for any minority groups.188 This was

in agreement with the state discourse that on the Turkish territory there was no other

national or cultural group but Turks. The Turkish Labor Party, as will be seen at

length in the next chapters, was closed down just for having claimed that there were

other cultural and ethnic groups.

In addition, the NUC had started to change the Kurdish and Armenian names

of villages and towns into Turkish ones. Law 1587 states that those names which

hurt public opinion and are not suitable for our national culture, moral values,

traditions and customs shall be changed into Turkish ones.189 Meanwhile, 485

187
There are plenty of examples of such arrests. see Feroz Ahmad and Bedia Turgay
Ahmad, Trkiyede ok Partili Politikann Aklamal Kronolojisi (19451971) (Ankara:
Bilgi Yaynlar, 1976), pp. 312-323.
188
Before this law, the political parties, as any other association, were under the Cemiyetler
Kanunu, which had been changed a few times and had a very limited place for political
parties. See Resmi Gazete, No: 12050, 16.7.1965, Siyasi Partiler Kanunu, No.648, approved
on 3. 7,1965.
189
Quoted in McDowall, p.403.

64
Kurdish intellectuals and notables, mainly pro-Democrat party, were held in custody

in Sivas. Furthermore, the president of the Republic, Cemal Grsel summarized the

policy on the Kurds as follows:

If the mountain Turks do not keep quite, the army will not hesitate to bomb
their towns and villages into the ground. There will be such a bloodbath that
they and their country will be washed away.190

This is important because not only was it the President of the republic who

spoke, but also a closer look would summarize the general policy of the 1960s

regarding the Kurds. The terms Kurd or Kurdish were taboo. In the same line with the

state ideology, the Kurds in Turkey were also regarded as Turks, or Mountain

Turks, who were of pure Turkish stock, but had somehow, forgot their Turkishness

and used a broken language that was a mixture of Persian and Turkish. The

Commando operations in the east and southeast regions in the late 1960s under the

guise of collecting illegal guns and capturing bandits would be a bitter example of

this approach. Finally, although the state did not recognize the Kurds and Kurdish in

the country, a decree passed in 1967 displays the concern of the authorities with

Kurdish. According to the decree, it is illegal and prohibited to enter or distribute in

the country, any materials in Kurdish in any form of published, recorded, taped or

such. 191

What is Krtlk?

Krtlk, or Kurdism, first, can be described as any attempt to argue or claim

that the Mountain Turks are Kurds or have a distinct ethnicity, language and culture

190
Quoted in zcan, p.86.
191
T.C. Resmi Gazete, 24 ubat 1967 say: 12527 Karar says: 6/7635.

65
from those of the Turks. Since the existence of the Kurds as a separate group was

denied any argument in disagreement with that would be labeled as Krtlk.

Second, any specific emphasis on the Kurdish region in terms of economic

backwardness and underdevelopment was part of Krtlk. However, Krtlk

also was a way for the state authorities to validate their anxiety about Kurdish

mobilization. Krt or Kurdist, on the other hand, was any group or person

advocated Krtlk, that is to say, would put forward the above-mentioned issues.

In a letter to the journal Yn (direction), a teacher from the Kurdish region

wrote that in the region there was a development in Kurdist activities. The reason, he

argues, was that eastern people did not know that they were actually Turkish. If only

we teach them that they are pure Turks, then they would not be deceived by separatist

propaganda. It was our duty, village teachers and civil servants, to do that...yet the

situation is getting worse than ever. 192 In this case, Krtlk means the existing

situation of the regions people, still speaking Kurdish and listening Kurdish radio

broadcasting.

According to the 1965 Census of Population, more than two and a half

million people, which were 8.43 % of the total, indicated their language as Kurdish.

In 10 provinces Turkish was the second most spoken language after Kurdish. They

were Adyaman, Ar, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakr, Hakkari, Mardin, Siirt, Urfa, and

Van. 193 These data brought about great concern in the national media. Many

192
Dou blgemizde gizli bir Krtlk faaliyeti vardr. Bunun sebebi de, Dou halknn
Trk soyundan geldiklerini bilmemeleridir. Eer Krte konuan ve propagandalara
kendini kaptran vatandalara Trk soyundan geldikleri retilirse, vatanda da bu blc
propagandalara kendini kaptrmayacaktr. Bu grevi de ky retmenleri ile memurlar
yapacakt ve bizler, bu grevi yaptk bu grev yaplmtr, ama yara kangren olmaya
devam etmektedir.Yn, no. 204, (24 February, 1967).
193
T.C. Babakanlk Devlet statistik Enstitusu, Genel Nfus Saym: Nfusun Sosyal ve
Ekonomik Nitelikleri, 24.10.1965, Yayn No: 568, (Ankara, 1969), p.184-186.

66
commentators regarded it as a scandal that such a large population had yet to be

integrated into the fold of Turkish culture and language.

A number of the 258,907 persons born in the region were residents of other

regions in Turkey.194 Due to the lack of data about those who migrated to the city for

reasons other than for educational purposes, we cannot be sure of how they became

integrated to city life. Yet, since this thesis is mainly preoccupied with those Kurds

who were students and then became leading figures in politics in general and in the

Leftist movement in particular, I shall make some remarks on those who were

assumed to be Krt in the 1960s.

194
These figures probably include those who were exiled during the single-party era. See
Majeed R. Jafar, Under-Underdevelopment; A Regional Case Study of the Kurdish Area in
Turkey (Helsinki: Social Policy Association, 1976), p.87.

67
CHAPTER THREE

THE KURDISH ETHNOREGIONAL MOVEMENT AND THE PROCESS


OF THE POLITICIZATION OF KURDISH IDENTITY IN THE 1960S

This chapter examines the class nature and ideological orientation of the first

generation of Kurdish activists that came to political maturity during the 1940s and

1950s. It will discuss their role in the so-called Kurdish revival of the late 1950s. It

will also attempt to define what their political objectives were. It will go on to discuss

the shift in the ideological orientation of the second generation of Kurdish activists

that came of age during the 1960s and the impact of Turkish socialism and socialist

discourse on approaches to the Kurdish question.

Kurdish Students, the Role of Student Dormitories

Obtaining a higher education was a privilege of the notable and wealthy of

Kurdish society up until the late 1950s. In a very minor way, boarding schools and

the Village Institutes partly change this pattern.195 The difference between those who

obtained higher education before the 1950s and after 1960s, particularly in the mid-

1960s, in terms of socioeconomic background is a fact that needs to be underlined. As

will be seen, the leading positions in the 1960s would be held by those who got their

education prior to 1960s. Meanwhile, those who were students or who had graduated

during the 1960s, that is to say, the new generation of Kurdish intellectuals either

would follow the path set out by the earlier generation or as it became evident in the

195
Virtually all Kurdish students at that time went boarding schools. For example, see Naci
Kutlay, Anlarm.

68
fractionalization of the DDKOs (Turkish acronym for Devrimci Dou Kltr

Ocaklar, Revolutionary Eastern Cultural Hearths) would try to organize separately.

The Dicle Talebe Yurdu (Dicle Student Dormitory) founded in 1943 by Musa

Anter, is the first association that brought together a significant number of Kurdish

students.196 Mustafa Remzi Bucak, who was a deputy from the DP in the 1950s and

left the country in the early 1960s, was the head of the dormitory. Yusuf Azizolu,

Mustafa Ekinci, Faik Bucak, Musa Anter, Tark Ziya Ekinci, Ali Karahan, Edip

Karahan, Ziya erefhanolu, Edip Altnakar, Necat Cemilolu, Enver Aytekin and

many other persons who would become very important figures in politics also stayed

there.197

Yusuf Azizolu, who became Minister of Health in the early 1960s and leader

of the New Turkey Party, was accused of being Kurdist due to the attention he paid

to the development of the Eastern regions. Tark Ziya Ekinci was the most influential

Doulu in the Turkish Labor Party, was elected to the parliament from Diyarbakir in

1965, and was party general secretary in the TLP. Faik Bucak was also active in

politics during the 1950s and was head of the Republican Peasants Nationalist Party

branch in Urfa. In the general elections in 1965, his candidacy was turned down by

the Justice Party. Although he campaigned independently, he lost the election. 198 He

was also founder of the clandestine Kurdistan Democrat Party in 1965. Ziya

erefhanolu was elected to the senate from Bitlis. Ali Karahan, too, was elected to

the parliament.

196
See Musa Anter, Hatralarm, 1-2.
197
Mustafa Remzi Bucak, Bir Krt Aydnndan smet nnye Mektup (stanbul: Doz
Yaynclk, 1991), p.8.
198
Sosyalizm ve Toplumsal Mcadeleler Ansiklopedisi, Vol.7 Sosyalizm ve
Krtler(stanbul: letiim Yaynlar,1988) p.2129.

69
To sum up, almost everyone who stayed in the Dicle Student Dormitory later

became influential in politics. Although many of those figures did not deny their

political allegiances, that is to say affiliation with any political parties that would lead

them to the parliament, they considered that as the only option they had during that

time and used this argument to explain why they did not pay much attention to the

Kurdish issue at that time. It is commonly argued that the importance of the Dicle

Student Dormitory comes from its role and place in shaping modern Kurdish

nationalism. Also, it is argued that the dormitory functioned, in the 1940s, as a

Kurdish university; however, as noted above, the importance of the dormitory was

that it provided a suitable environment for those Kurdish students to form networks.

This first generation of Kurdish students, most of whom were from the

leading stratum of society in the 1940s, and to some extent, in the early 1950s, for a

number of reasons chose not to play the ethnic card in politics. It is true that with their

Kurdish backgrounds, they would have been unable to reach high office had they

emphasized their ethnic identity. It seems that their main interest was to become a

part of national political life through the existing channels and to use the existing

discourses. Moreover, as Bozarslan points out, the new generation, due to the success

of Kemalism in terms of pacifying the earlier generation of Kurdish nationalists,

based its references in accordance with Turkish political culture. 199

Many, however, would recognize that their ethnic and cultural identity was

dissimilar to the places in western Anatolia where they studied. For almost every

student during this period was confronted with a different culture. While the first

generation of Kurdish students say that they were not even aware that they were

Kurds, the next generation would, on the other hand, emphasize how they were

199
Bozarslan, Krd Milliyetilii, p.850.

70
stunned when they first saw the discrepancy between their region and the western part

of the country. This is very important for our understanding of the subsequent

developments in the Kurdish movement. First, as noted above, those who mentioned

the ethnic and cultural differences came from relatively wealthy families. However,

many of those who were most struck by the economic gap between eastern and

western Turkey came from poorer backgrounds.

Tark Ziya Ekinci in an interview pointed out that he had had no idea about

the Kurdish identity since in Diyarbakr, his hometown, there was virtually nothing to

remind him of anything of the sort. Like many other examples, he stated that he
200
recognized his Kurdishness only when he was accused of being a Kurd. Musa

Anter tells a similar story about how he distinguished himself from the rest of the

class in Adana where he was a student.201 Another significant example is of Kemal

Burkay, who also was very influential in the TLP in the 1960s. In his memoirs,

Burkay states that he used to believe that there were no difference between the Kurds

and the Turks; even I assumed that there were no Kurds except for those who lived

around their village.202

However, the next generation, that is to say, the one in the late 1950s and

early 1960s, were astonished by the regional inequalities, which encourage their

leftward drift. Ruen Aslan, an activist in the leftist movement in the 1960s, as well as

Kemal Burkay and Mehmet Ali Aslan, who also became the TLP leader in 1969,

stated that their first observation was the chasm between eastern and western parts of

200
Interview with Tark Ziya Ekinci, in Amidalilar; Srgndeki Diyarbekirliler, Compl.
eyhmus Diken (stanbul: letiim Yaynlar, 2007) pp.44-46.
201
Anter, Hatralarm, p.43.
202
Kemal Burkay, Anlar, Belgeler, Vol.I. (stanbul: Deng Yaynlar, 2002), p.66.

71
Turkey.203 This observation, in addition to a new environment, in which socialists

started to voice their demands more than ever, would lead many Kurds to encounter

socialism. Contrary to the previous generation, the new generation of Kurdish

students who migrated to big cities, faced new economic and cultural problems.

Student dormitories remained one of the most secure places for many Kurds in

Istanbul and Ankara. What is interesting is that, hemericilik (fellow townsmenship)

was more decisive than Kurdishness. For instance, the Diyarbakr grenci Yurdu,

(Diyarbakr Student Dormitory) in Istanbul was the first stop for many students from

Diyarbakr.204 In addition, many eastern cultural organizations or hemeri

associations not only gathered around Kurdishness, but also strengthened their

cohesion in terms of their local identities. As will be seen later, prior to the Eastern

Meetings in 1967, nineteen of these associations signed a joint paper and condemned

Turkist writers who assaulted Kurds. However, hemericilik turned into Doulu (from

the East), a relatively broader identity but narrower than the Kurdish one owing to its

emphasis on only the economically deprived segments of the Kurds, which was

anyway out of question due to the political atmosphere in the 1960s.

In addition to the increasing number of Kurdish students in the 1960s, there

was another important phenomenon, the emergence of Kurdish literature and the

eruption of debates concerned with a solution to the Eastern question in the Turkish

media. I will take a closer look at the journals, which were regarded as Kurdists by

the authorities and many of which were closed down after just a few issues.

The Reemergence of Kurdish Literature and Historiography

203
Ruen Aslan, Interview by Delal Aydn, Ankara, Turkey, March, 2005.
204
mer An, Alev, Duvar ve TKP, (stanbul: Genda A., 2003), p.15.

72
The prevailing idea of proving that the Kurds were Turks, too, had been

cherished by the authorities long before the multi-party era. However, it took on a

new form in the 1950s and 1960s. Kurdism was seen as a threat to the states

discourse and was brought to the public attention mainly by the ultra nationalist

media, such as Milli Yol, (National Path) in the late 1950s, and tken, in the 1960s.

Avni Doan, inspector of the First General Inspectorate in the 1940s, published a

serial in daily Vatan (Motherland) in 1958 in which he warned the authorities about

recent developments in neighboring countries, especially about Iraq. There he called

for a common national atmosphere to defend national unity which was under great

threat from rising Kurdism.205

Another example was the book titled Dou Vilayetleri ve Varto Tarihi (The

Eastern Provinces and the History of Varto), written by Mehmet erif Frat who was

a Kurd himself. The book was reprinted in 1961 and claimed that the Kurds in fact

were Turks. Cemal Grsel wrote a foreword for the book in which he reiterated this

view by arguing that the citizens in eastern Anatolia, despite the fact that they thought

that they were distinct from Turks and had a unique language, were of pure Turkish

stock.206 It is necessary to give a brief account of what Kurds wrote starting from the

late 1950s but especially in the 1960s.

Musa Anter, one of the most prominent Kurdish writers of the time, published

a journal entitled Dicle Kayna (Tigris Spring) along with three other friends from

Dicle Student Dormitory in 1948. According to Anter, for the first time, they learned

about and discussed the massacres of the Kurds, such as the Zilan massacre of 1930,
205
Avni Doan, Tehlike an, Vatan, 19-23 November 1958, quoted in Azad Zana
Gndoan, p.84
206
Mehmet erif Frat, Dou illeri ve Varto Tarihi (Ankara: Milli Egitim Basmevi, 1961).

73
Dersim in 1938 or Otuzler (33s).207 In the late 1950s, Anter again published a daily

Kurdish oriented journal under the title leri Yurt, (Advanced Country). The journal

was based in Diyarbakir and founded in 1958. To mark its 500th issue, on September

31, 1959, Anter published a poem called Kml (insect pest) in Kurdish. The poem

was one of the first attempts to voice the economic grievances of the region. He

ended his poem saying wait sister, your brothers are coming to save you from what

you suffer.208 As a result, Musa Anter along with the journals editor, Canip Yldrm

and owner, Abdurrahman Efhem Dolak were arrested in September 1959.209

Although they were accused of offending public sensitivities and damaging the states

image, the expert opinion of the court was that publishing a Kurdish poem did not

constitute an attack on the unity of Kurds and Turks.210

Musa Anters subsequent writings attracted not only the attention of the

Turkish state, but also of the new generations of Kurdish intellectuals. In 1962, in a

liberal Turkish journal called Bar Dnyas (world of peace), Anter proposed a full

solution to the Eastern Question. After noting that they did not aim at the

establishment of any Kurdish state or separate from Turkey, he declared that,

development of the East is the development of Turkey. The East can be a sun for our

nation. Why do not we open schools which would teach our citizens whose mother

tongue is Kurdish and who do not speak any other language except Kurdish? Why

does the university in the region not study literature and philology of this language?

207
33 Kurdish villagers were executed arbitrary by General Mustafa Mulal in Van in 1943.
208
Bekle Bac, seni ektiin bu zulmlerden kurtaracak kardelerin yetiiyor.
209
For the poem and the reactions, see Musa Anter, Kml (stanbul: Yeni Matbaa, 1962).
210
amlbel, 49lar Davas: Bir lkenin damlk Krtleri, p.34.

74
Why are Kurdish newspapers not published? Why does not a local radio station

broadcast in Kurdish?211

He underlined the fact that Kurdish radio broadcasts from abroad were already

popular among Kurds. In addition, he added that teaching in Kurdish in primary

education would be helpful for getting a good education in Turkish afterward.

However, in another Turkish weekly, Yn (direction), 15 Kurdish intellectuals

responded to Bar Dnyas in a way that seem to give the first signals of the split

among the Kurds with regard to the approach with which they sought to deal with the

Eastern Question. In the article titled Eastern Youngsters Respond to Bar

Dnyas: Our Eastern Matter,( Doulu Genler Bar Dnyasna cevap veriyor:

Dou Davamz), although they did not disagree with what had been argued in Bar

Dnyas, it was argued that the remedies and solutions which had been put forth by

the article were insufficient to solve the question. 212

In another article, Sait Krmztoprak responded to Avni Doans serial

published in daily Dnya (the World) according to a socialist model. However, he

also put great emphasis on the systematic denial of Kurdish ethnicity. According to

Krmztoprak, Kurdish people, as Avni Doan had agreed a few years earlier, had a

distinct ethnicity, literature, poetry and culture. Yet, people like Avni Doan and

evket Sreyya Aydemir had backtracked from an acceptance of the Kurdish ethnic

identity. They had adopted a line based on the book Dou Vilayetleri ve Varto Tarihi

(Eastern provinces and the History of Varto), which denied the existence of a separate

Kurdish identity. However, denying the existence of Kurdish people did not halt

211
Anter, Kml, pp.74-76.
212
Doulu Genler Bar Dnyasna cevap veriyor: Dou Davamz Yn, no 26, 13 June
1962, pp.12-13. They were listed as follows: Sait Krmztoprak, Selahattin Kemalolu,
Kahraman Ayta, Sait Keleki, Gyasettin Erolu, Hasan Kocademir, Mehmet Ali Aslan,
Yusuf Karagl, Vefa Alpaslan, Mehmet Ali Dinler, Tahsin Bilici, Ali Ekber Eren, Hamdi
Turanl, Sleyman Bayramolu, Haydar Kova,

75
interest in the Kurdish identity and if anything, helped promote conflict between

Kurdish and Turkish thinkers. Despite conflicts, socialism was still seen as the main

framework for the solution of the Eastern Question. Sait Krmztoprak argued that

We, Doulus, with our entire strength, claim that only an organization which is

populist [Halk], democratic and based on labor, through effort and with knowledge

of Turkeys people could ensure the development of the East. 213

In the early 1960s, the influence of Socialism can be discerned easily. Starting

from the early1960s, writings concerning the region and the Kurds were published

both in the mainstream media and in journals founded by Kurds. The debate revolved

around the socialist rhetoric of development and justifications for greater cultural and

political freedom based on adherence to form the ideological basis of both Douculuk

(Eastism) and the emerging Kurdish nationalism among new generations.

The new Constitution promulgated after the 1960 coup, in contrast to the pre-

coup one, allowed people to form associations and publish without permission

notification.214 This gave rise to independent, bilingual Kurdish and Turkish journals.

Among them, Dicle-Firat (Tigris and Euphrates, 1962), Deng (Voice, 1963), Roja

Newe (New Day, 1963), Yeni Ak (New Current, 1966), Dou (East, 1969), DDKO

Haber Blteni, (DDKOs monthly bulletin, 1970) were the most important.215 All of

them, as noted above, had two features. They attempted to solve the

213
Biz Doulular btn kuvvetimizle unu diyoruz: Halk, demokratik, sosyal Trkiye
insannn emek, bilgi ve abasna dayanan bir organizasyon ierisinde Dou kalknmas
tahakkuk edebilir ancak. Dr. S. Krmztoprak Kimler iin an alyorlar?... Yn, no. 40,
(19 September 1962), pp.14-15.
214
Republic of Turkey, Constitution of Turkish Republic, Article 23 and 29, Ankara, 1961.
215
For a full list, see Malmisanij and Mahmud Levendi, Li Kurdistana Bakur u li Tirkiy
Rojnamegeriya Kurdi (19081992) (Ankara: zge Yaynclk, 1992).

76
underdevelopment of the East with socialism, and considered the constitution as a

safeguard for Kurdish cultural and political rights.

Edip Karahan, the owner of the Dicle-Firat under the pseudonym of Edip

Osmanolu, in the first issue declared, The East has been neglected for centuries and

as a result of this became a land of deprivation. This neglect continued during the

Republican era. No matter what political parties they belonged to, all of the

politicians, in order to assimilate and pacify the people in the East and its intellectuals

deliberately introduced the East as a land of ignorance and barbarity to the Turkish
216
and the world public. Although it only published eight issues, it made a great

contribution to the reemergence of the old Kurdish masterpieces. There were fruitful

debates about present issues such as the issue of 55 aghas who had been sent into

exile or other Turkish publications especially those that provoked Kurdish feeling. 217

Deng, (the Voice) a bilingual Kurdish and Turkish journal, owned by Ergn
218
Koyuncu could only publish two issues. Deng, too, put a great emphasis on

negligence of the East and welcomed the new political atmosphere.219 In Deng, Kurds

such as Kemal Badilli and Faik Bucak wrote and published Kurdish poems.220 Roja

216
Dou, yzyllardan beri ihmal edilmi, bu ihmal neticesinde bir mahrumiyet blgesi
haline gelmitir. Bu ihmal, Cumhuriyet devrinde de devam etmitir. Hangi partiye mensup
olursa olsun gelmi gemi btn politikaclar, Dou halkn ve aydnlarn sindirmek iin
Douyu, sistemli ve maksatl olarak Trk ve Dnya efkarna taassup, cehalet ve medeniyet
dman bir yer gibi gstermilerdir. Edip Osmanolu, (Karahan) Neden kyoruz?
Dicle-Frat, Yl:1, no 1, 1 November 1962. online at http://www.edipkarahan.com/
217
For example, See.Edip Karahan, Krlan Potlar, Dicle-Frat, , no.8 available online
at http://www.edipkarahan.com/
218
Malmisanij and Lewendi,
219
Azad Zana Gndoan, p.109.
220
Kutlay, Anlarm, p.102.

77
Newe, (the New Day) bilingual monthly newspaper, was closed down like other

journals on account of having separatist aims.221

In June 1963, 23 prominent Kurdish writers and students who wrote for Dicle-

Firat, Deng, and Roja Newe were arrested.222 They were accused of being

Communist Kurdist and attempting to establish an independent Kurdish state in

Turkish territory.223 All of the above-mentioned publications were banned. As a

result, they earned a negative image in the eye of the Turkish public.

Despite the threat of being arrested, writings on the East and the Kurdish issue

continued. A striking example is the publication of Yeni Ak (the New Current) in

1966. The journal ran for six issues and continued the tradition of writing about the

east, and amalgamation of socialism and Kurdish ethnic pride. Socialism and

compliance with the constitution proposed a solution to both the economic

backwardness of the region and emancipation of Kurdishness. For example, one

article proclaimed that there exists a Kurdish people who have their unique

language, culture, custom and tradition in the eastern part of Turkey. 224 However,

the journal did not advocate Kurdish independence. In an article entitled Socialism

and the Kurds, it is argued that socialism allowed ethnic groups to enrich their

221
Malmisanij and Lewendi, p.159.
222
These included Edip Karahan of Dicle-Frat, Doan Kl hhesenanl and Hasan Bulu
of Roja New, Musa Anter, Mehmet Serhat, Ergn Koyuncu and Yaar Kaya of Deng,, Ziya
erefhanolu of Reya Rast, Ali Anagr, Kemal Bingll, Fetullah Kakiolu, Mehmet
Bilgin, Enver Aytekin and nine persons from Iraq and Iran who were mainly students in
Turkey. See Sosyalizm ve Toplumsal Mcadeleler Ansiklopedisi, vol.7 Sosyalizm ve
Krtler, p.2126.
223
Cumhuriyet, 29 July, 1963.
224
Sosyalizm ve Krtler Yeni Ak, no.3 October 1966. Available online at
http://www.mehmetaliaslan.com

78
225
national culture and ethnic characteristics and its language. The journal also

published some Kurdish poems by Faik Bucak, Kemal Badilli and Ihsan Aksoy.226

However, Yeni Ak also was banned and Kemal Burkay and Mehmet Ali Aslan were

put in the jail for six months.227

Another journal, Dou (the East) followed the same line as above-mentioned

publications, but was able to publish only two issues. According to Musa Anter, who

also wrote for the journal, the Eastern Question was analyzed within the framework
228
of scientific socialism. For example, Mihri Belli in an article entitled Millet

Gerei (the reality of the nation), argued that for a genuine unity between Kurds and

Turks, as well as for the greater good of the country, the state policy of suppression

and assimilation of the Kurds should be put to an end.229

Alongside the journals, there were also a number of publications on the

Kurdish language. Kemal Badilli, for example, published a Kurdish grammar book,

Musa Anter published a Kurdish-Turkish dictionary and Mehmet Emin Bozarslan

translated and published Ahmede Xanis Mem u Zin (Mem and Zin) the classic of

Kurdish literature. 230

To recapitulate, starting with the late 1950s, the Kurdish question was

discussed both by Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals as Eastern Question. Initially,


225
Trkiyenin dousunda yaayan, kendisine has dili, kltr, rf, adeti olan bir Krt
Halk vardr. Ibid.,
226
Krt Halknn Yeri Yeni Ak, no. 4, November 1966.
227
Mehmet Ali Aslan, interview by the author, tape recording, Istanbul, Turkey, 31 January
2009.
228
Anter, Hatralarm, 1-2, p.216.
229
Malmisanij and Lewendi, p.197; and Mihri Belli, Milli Demokratik Devrim (Ankara:
Aydnlk Yaynlar, 1970)
230
For an excellent analysis of Bozarslans personal and intellectual evolution, see Metin
Yksel, A "Revolutionary" Kurdish Mullah from Turkey: Mehmed Emin Bozarslan and
His Intellectual Evolution, The Muslim World 99, 2: (April 2009) pp.356380.

79
they seemed to use a vague language with regard to the ethnic aspect of the question,

focusing more on economic development and the need for a socialist solution.

Undoubtedly, their arguments were shaped by a myriad of social and political

developments of the 1960s. As will be seen in the next chapter, many Kurdish

activists affiliation with the Leftist movement would be central to how they viewed

the issue. Kurdish ethnicity, which encountered both Turkish nationalism and

Socialism in the 1960s, would be cherished by Kurdish intelligentsia. However, the

general political atmosphere of the 1960s, as well as Kurdish intelligentsias

confusion and fear with respect to ethnicity would prevent them from prioritizing

ethnicity in their discourse.

Yet, although the early Kurdish activists would define their problems in

primarily economic terms, this led to new questions, such as why and how it was so.

The answers that each group and person would give to those questions also would

determine the path they would follow. Given the fact that most Kurdish activists were

attracted to leftist ideas during the 1960s, socialism was seen as the panacea to both

inequality and economic backwardness. This would lead to an affiliation with

socialist ideas in general and with the Turkish Labor Party in particular. This facet of

the Kurdish movement will be examined in greater detail in the next chapter.

Both those Kurds who inhabited in the region and those who had migrated to

the big cities were not immune from Turkeys economic, political and demographic

transformation. These transformations provided part of the inspiration for all of the

above-mentioned publications. Yet, one should not exaggerate their influence. During

this period, nearly 70 percent of Kurds were illiterate. What is important though is the

fact that they made a great contribution to the intellectual development of many

young Kurdish students and intellectuals.

80
As Mikesell and Murphy argue, when dominant nationalism generates

feelings of xenophobia or megalomania, the other linguistic and religious groups,

especially if it is thought that they are disloyal and inferior, are more likely to express
231
keen feelings of resentment. This point is evident from the above-mentioned

journals. However, the increased visibility of Kurdish ethnicity did not go unnoticed.

Not only did the state authorities have to deal with the new sense of Kurdish ethnic

pride, but these developments also elicited a response from non-state actors. The

socialists were one such group. Turkish nationalists as well paid increasing attention

to the Kurdish movement. Turkish nationalists in particular engaged in bellicose

discourse against the Kurds. The following paragraph is an example of such vulgar

discourse:

If they [the Kurds] want to carry on speaking a primitive language with


vocabularies of only four or five thousand words, if they want to create their
own state and publish what they like, let them go and do it somewhere else.
We Turks have shed rivers of blood to take possession of these lands; we had
to uproot Georgians, Armenians and Byzantine GreeksLet them go off
wherever they want, to Iran, to Pakistan, to India, or to join Barzani. Let them
ask the United Nations to find them a homeland in Africa. The Turkish race is
very patient, but when it is really angered, it is like a roaring lion and nothing
can stop it. Let them ask the Armenians who we are, and let them draw the
appropriate conclusions. 232

Nihal Atsz, an ultra-nationalist writer, and smet Tmtrk, another radical

Turkish nationalist suggested ethnic cleansing if the Kurds did not except

assimilating.233 The anti-Kurdism of the ultra-nationalist Turkish right would provide

part of the impetus behind the Eastern Meetings in 1967, a point that will be looked at

in greater depth in Chapter Four.

231
Mikesell and Murphy, p. 600.
232
Quoted in Kendal, p.77.
233
For what they wrote in tuken and Milli Yol, see Uslu, pp.127-128.

81
One final point needs to be mentioned, the constitution and references to it.

Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, in his influential book Dounun Sorunlar only started with

an article from the constitution, but also argued that unless the constitution was put in

practice, the problems of the East would not be solved. 234 To give another example, in

Yeni Aks second issue there was an attempt to legitimize the journals publication
235
along constitutional lines. It was not only Kurds who paid attention to the

constitution but also Turkish writers who tackled the subject. Although his real

influence came after his arrest with the TLP and DDKOs activists in 1971, smail

Beiki, an assistant at Erzurum University, began to publish books on the Kurds and

argued that the constitution was an important part of the solution.236 Furthermore,

brahim Yasa, a professor at Ankara University, in his book Trkiyenin Toplumsal

Yaps ve Temel Sorunlar, (Turkeys Social Structure and Fundamental Problems),

discussed the situation of the Kurds and the East concluding with the articles from the

constitution.237

The Source of the Kurdish Ethnoregional Movement in the 1960s

The Kurdish ethnoregional movement in the 1960s was made up a number of

actors and groups (see Figure 3). The TKDP and the Tde KDP were non-socialist

234
Mehmed Emin Bozarslan, Dounun Sorunlar (Diyarbakr: afak Kitabevi, 1966), p.7.
235
Yeni Ak no.2 September, 1966 (back cover).

236 smail Beiki, Douda deiim ve yapsal sorunlar: Gebe Alikan Aireti ( Ankara :
Doan Yaynevi, 1969); Dou Anadolu'nun dzeni : Sosyo-ekonomik ve Etnik Temeller,
(Ankara : E Yaynlar, 1969) were among his first publications on the Kurdish issue.
237
brahim Yasa, Trkiyenin Toplumsal Yaps ve Temel Sorunlar (Turkiye ve Orta Dogu
Amme Idaresi Enstitusu Yayinlari, no.119 (Ankara: Sevinc Matbaasi, 1970), p.174.

82
sources of the movement. This section addresses the three actors of the movement,

except for the TLP and Kurdish students.

The Turkish Labor Party


(Doulus; Kurdish
Socialists in the TLP)
The New Turkey Kurdish Students
Party(YTP-Yusuf (FKF Dev-
Azizoglu) Gen DDKO)
The Kurdish
Ethnoregional movement
in the 1960s

The Kurdistan Democratic The Kurdistan Democratic


Party of Turkey (TKDP- Party in Turkey (Tde KDP-
Sait Eli) Sait Krmztoprak)

Figure 3. The sources of the Kurdish ethnoregional movement in the 1960s.

The general socialist posture of the Kurdish intellectual classes had a great

impact on the Kurdish ethnoregionalist movement. This aspect of the development of

Kurdish politics will be looked at in greater detail in the following chapter. However,

before looking at the socialist parties and their impact, it is important to look at other

non-socialist groups that influenced the development of Kurdish politics: the New

Turkey Party (Yeni Trkiye Partisi, NTP) and two clandestine parties, respectively,

the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Turkey (Trkiye Krdistan Demokrat Partisi,

TKDP) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Turkey (Trkiyede Krdistan

Demokrat Partisi, Tde KDP).

The NTP was founded in wake of the military coup in 1961 when the ban on

political parties was lifted. Like the Justice Party, the NTP claimed to be a

continuation of the DP and attempted to gain the former DP votes. The NTP was

unsuccessful in the end and it was JP that gained the former DP voters.

83
Ekrem Alican, the chairman of the party, and Yusuf Azizoglu who became

party leader in the late 1960s were both Kurds. In fact, Azizolu was one of the exiled

aghas allowed to return to the East by the Democrats in the 1940s and had left the DP

to set up Freedom Party (FP) in 1955.238 Many politically active Kurds in the 1960s

had supported the FP until it was closed down in 1958, after which they turned to the

RPP. This support was part of an attempt by the Kurdish elite to achieve the

maximum amount of political influence and is in fact contrary to what they claimed

later. For instance, Musa Anter, Niyazi Usta and Canip Yldrm239 turned to the

RPP.

The NTP got the bulk of its support from the Kurds due to Yusuf Azizoglus

personal contacts and the local notables influence in the party.240 The NTP took part

in three short coalitions between 1961 and 1965 and obtained some ministerial

positions as well. For instance, Yusuf Azizoglu became Minister of Health and paid

great emphasis on Kurdish cities and cultural associations. 241 During his ministry, he

was accused of not working for the national interest, but for local and separatist ones.

When Hfz Ouz Bekata, the RPP Minister of the Interior resigned, he claimed that

some individuals in the coalition were not working for the whole nation, which was a

veiled reference to Azizolu. 242

238
McDowall, p.406.
239
Orhan Mirolu, Canip Yldrmla Sylei: Hevsel Bahesinden Bir Dut Aac (stanbul:
letiim Yaynlar, 2005), p.165.
240
For example, the 55 Aghas who had been exiled in the wake of the coup were allowed to
return their land while the NTP was in coalition. Furthermore, they, the 55s were welcomed
with drums and clarions by the NTP and the JP. See Ahmad and Ahmad, p.252.
241
Ruen Arslan, Cim Karnnda Nokta: Anlar (stanbul: Doz, 2006), p.85.
242
Cumhuriyet, 5 October 1963.

84
Losing its strength in the western part of Turkey, NTP concentrated on

the Eastern region especially after 1965, utilizing Douculuk in its propaganda and

trying to form an alliance with the local notables and aghas. Although the NTP was

unsuccessful, its approach demonstrates as striking example of the shift in terms of

political propaganda in the region. The Party Program, in addition to its network

among local notables and alike, paid great attention to the economic development of

the region, while rejecting any form of separatism. 243 For example, Yusuf Azizoglu,

as the party chairman, claimed that their sole concern was the development of the

East. He also denied any connections with Krtlk and such ideologies. 244

The First Phase of Politicization of the Kurdish Ethnicity

As noted, the Kurdish ethnicity and language gained an increasingly high

profile during the 1960s. Although economics was the main lens through which

Kurds saw the Eastern Question, increasing ethnic awareness also had a subtle effect

on politics. Part of this was an endeavor to prove that their ethnicity and cultural

identity were real when faced with the denial of the Kurdish and the opposition of the

political right. Bozarslan argues, in addition to a collective memory of the past events

243
Article 4 of party programme states that Our understanding of nationalism reflects a
moral solidarity based on our citizens who regard s/himself as a nation within the Turkish
language and culture, common desires and refuses the separator currents born of race,
religion, culture and local customs. In Turkish, Milliyetilik anlaymz, vatandalar
arasnda, irk, din, kltr ve mahalli gelenek farklarndan doan ayrc cereyanlar
reddeden, Trk dili ve kltr iinde kendisini bir millet olarak kabul eden vatandalarn
mterek arzularna dayanan, manevi tesand ifade etmektir.In Ferruh Bozbeyli,
Trkiyede Siyasi Partilerin Ekonomik ve Sosyal Grleri-Belgeler; Parti
Programlari,(stanbul: Ak Yaynlar, 1970), p.376.
244
Yusuf Azizolu, in Abdi peki, Liderler Diyor ki; Rportajlar (stanbul: Ant Yaynlar,
1969), pp.80-82.

85
and the new Kurdish intelligentsia, the Barzani revolt in Iraq also promoted

politicized expressions of the Kurdish ethnicity. 245

The Barzani Revolt,246 between 1961 and 1970, was confined to Iraq and
247
involved only with a small proportion of the Kurds. However, it caused great

anxiety amongst the Turkish authorities and at the same time encouraged some

Kurdish nationalists in Turkey. Although people who had been to Iraq during that

time and had seen Barzani personally claimed that Barzani would never support a

Kurdish movement in Turkey,248 it has been argued that the clandestine Kurdistan

Democrat Party of Turkey (TKDP) was directly founded by him. Whatever the truth,

given the partys name, it is beyond doubt that at the very least the KDP of Iraq

provided the inspiration for the organization.

According to Bozarslan, the TKDP, which was founded by Faik Bucak

and Sait Eli in 1965, was the first Kurdish organization established after Xoybun in

the 1930s.249 Along with the TLP, the TKDP was the most important channel through

245
Hamit Bozarslan, Political Aspects of the Kurdish Problem in Contemporary Turkey,
pp.9697.
246
The Kurdistan Democrat Party in Iraq (KDP) was founded after its Iranian counterpart,
under the direct influence of communism. In 1958, the party issued a resolution which can
also be seen as its ultimate purpose: 1-recogniton in principle of the rights of the Kurdish
people, including the right to self-determination. 2- Fighting separatist thought and
movements, and striving to solidify solidarity between the Arab and Kurdish nationalities.
3- Upholding Article 3 of the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of Iraq and working
to implement it by legislating laws guaranteeing Kurdish national rights. 4- Caring for the
interests of the Kurdish people with regard to industrialization and raising agricultural
production and living standards, as well as social, educational, and health standards. 5-
Strengthening fraternity between the Kurdish people and the minorities living in Kurdistan,
and guaranteeing their ability to exercise their rights. See, Massoud Barzani, Mustafa
Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement (New York: Palgrave, MacMillan, 2003),
p.203
247
Edgar OBallance, The Kurdish Revolt, 1961-1970 (London: Faber and Faber Limited,
1973), p.164.
248
Orhan Mirolu, Canip Yldrmla Sylei, p.180.
249
Bozarslan, Hamit, Krd Milliyetilii ve Krd Hareketi (18982000) p.854.

86
which Kurdish issue could be discussed. 250 It was established initially in Diyarbakir,

and then in Silvan, Batman, Sason, Garzan, Hazzo, Baykan, Bitlis, Siirt, Tatvan, Mu,

Bulank, Lice, Patnos, Van, Hizan, Siverek, Cizre, Nusaybin and Kzltepe. 251 It

participated in the Eastern Meetings in 1967 and most of the time its members

collaborated with the Easterners in the TLP.

The party was culturally nationalist and put great emphasis on the political

and cultural rights of the Kurds in Turkey. However, their ultimate purpose,

according to the platform, was not separation, but rather integration with a united

Turkey. Interestingly, its discourse was influenced by developmentalism and leftism.

Although McDowall argues that the party was unwilling to examine the inherent

tensions between ethnic nationalism, social traditionalism and social development, 252

the party platform, in the part entitled economic rights, explicitly called for a
253
resolution to regional underdevelopment. Moreover, the Party program was

influenced by the all-pervasive constitutionalism of the era. In fact, the TKDP cited

from the constitution and argued that their goals did not oppose adherence to the 1961

Constitution.

One of the first explanations for their approach might be made in accordance

to our theoretical approach. The Kurdish movement in the 1960s was turning into an

ethnoregional movement. Ethnicity was one of the two catalysts of the movement.

250
eref Yldz, Frtnada Yry (stanbul: Sar Defter9, 2008), p.48.
251
akir Epzdemir s study is one of the rare studies on the TKDP. The author himself was
the party member and arrested in 1968 along with other members of the party and stood trial
in Antalya. See akir Epzdemir Trkiye Krdistan Demokrat Partisi: 1968/235 Antalya
Davas Savunmas (stanbul: Peri Yaynlar, 2005), p.9.
252
McDowall, p.406.
253
Epzdemir, , p.24.

87
The new elite, in order to cooperate with the rest of their community, needed to

accept at least some of the present conditions and would try to highlight the existing

grievances as much as they could. Therefore, whereas the Easterners dealt with the

economic part of the movement, the Kurdish nationalist elite focused on ethnicity and

culture. Both borrowed from each other. In the case of the TKDP, it is also evident

that while they tried to extend their influence within the region they would sometimes

have to challenge not only the existing elite, but also the new generation of socialist

Kurds. This promoted a leftward shift in the partys discourse.

The TKDP furnishes a striking example of personal conflict as well. Whereas

the first party leader, Faik Bucak was killed in 1965, Sait Eli and a friend of his were

assassinated by Sait Krmztoprak while in Iraq. Sait Krmztoprak then was killed

by the Barzanis.254 Sait Eli was very influential among Kurdish intelligentsia in the

1960s. Both Eli and Krmztoprak were involved in the TLP and on many occasions,

they were as influential as the Easterners. After the arrest of members of the TKDP in

1968, the party was dissolved and Sait Krmztoprak, known as Dr. ivan, formed

Trkiyede Krdistan Demokrat Partisi, (Tde KDP, with the only difference in its

name, de, means in Turkey). By contrast, Tde KDP was a communist party whose
255
regulations were a copy of those of communist parties. Although it was not so

successful in the late 1960s, pro- ivan groups developed in the 1970s.

To sum up, starting in the mid-1950s, the Kurdish movement was dominated

by a tiny number of people consisting of the traditional leading stratum of Kurdish

society, sheiks and aghas and their relatives, and an emerging generation of Kurdish

intellectuals from poorer backgrounds most of whom had a higher educations. Those
254
interview with akir .Epzdemir: Dr. iwan Olay-23ler ve 55ler olay ile ilgili bir
sylei Ankara, 2006. available online at:
http://www.kurdinfo.com/s_epozdemir_soylesi_c_yilmaz.pdf
255
Devrimci Dou Kltr Ocaklar, Dava Dosyas 1, (Ankara: Komal, 1975), p.386.

88
who stayed in Dicle Student Dormitory formed the backbone of the Kurdish

intellectual class. After their arrest in the 49lar Olay they were joined by a new

generation of intellectuals. Those who were in active politics, again, until the late

1960s would consist of more or less the same people. No matter which party they

joined, their ultimate purpose was to integrate with the political system.

As for the Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish ethnoregional movement, many

activists did as much as they could to secure their positions within the Turkish

political system. Although it was culture for the first generation that provided the

basis for the critique of Turkish society, for the newer generations it was economics

and underdevelopment. Therefore, it is important to examine Turkish socialism in

general in order to provide a better context for the development of the Kurdish

movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Turkish Socialism in the 1960s

Socialism, as an ideology, is as old as Turkish and Kurdish nationalisms in

Turkey. The first socialist party, Osmanl Sosyalist Frkas (Ottoman Socialist Party)

goes back to 1910, two years after the establishment of the first ever legal Kurdish

organization.256 Just like Kurdish nationalism, socialism and Marxism were banned

after the Kemalists managed to consolidate power. The Kemalist movement, as it did

with some Kurdish notables in the 1920s, not only put an end to any further

communist movements in Turkey, but also included and embraced some communists

such as Vedat Nedim Tr, evket Sreyya Aydemir, who in the early 1930s were

256
Tark Zafer Tunaya, Trkiyede Siyasi Partiler (stanbul: stanbul niversitesi, 1952), p.
303

89
257
allowed to publish the journal Kadro (Cadre). As Harris points out, they were

provided opportunities to use their talents in government service and, indeed, to play

important roles in the ideological development of Kemalism.258

In 1946, two Socialist parties, Trkiye Sosyalist i Partisi (Socialist Workers

Party of Turkey) and Trkiye Sosyalist Emeki ve Kyl Partisi (Socialist Proletarian

Peasants Party of Turkey) were founded but were soon closed down. As already

noted, socialism and Marxism were suppressed even more harshly by the DP.

Kemalisms success and legacy, upon socialist and Marxist ideology, especially in

terms of radical progressive policies imposed from above, would be discernible in the
259
1960s. Parallel to the worldwide developments, socialism and Marxism gained

increasing currency amongst the intellectual classes.

To nearly all Turkish socialist groups, the two-stage revolution theory

developed by the Stalinist regime in the 1920s and 1930s became the de facto

ideology. This formulation claimed that although Turkey was not ready for a full

socialist revolution, it was ripe for a national democratic revolution which would

open the way for state-led development and provide complete national independence.

It would also allow for the elimination of the political power of the big bourgeoisie,

the feudal landowners and corrupt politicians who relied on the ignorant peasants.260

257
Cem Erogul, p.104.
258
George S. Harris, The Origins of Communism in Turkey (Standford, California; Hoover
Institution Publications, 1967), pp.129-130.
259
Ahmet Samim (Murat Belge) Turkish Left, in Turkey in Transition; New Perspectives,
ed. Irvin C. Schick and Erturul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987),
p. 151.
260
Erkan, Oktay, A Comparative Study of National Democratic Revolution Movement in
Turkey, M.A. Thesis, POL,Bogazici University, 1998, p.10.

90
Equally important was that the fact that Kemalist ideology in general and

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in particular also provided an ideological base for Marxism

and socialism in Turkey. Since Marxism and communism were still banned in the

1960s, socialism as a means of rapid development and elimination of poverty and

inequality attracted many Neo-Kemalists who brought together the radical statism of

Kemalism and socialism in the ideology of Trk Sosyalizmi (Turkish Socialism).

Therefore, the Turkish style of socialism was constructed on four ideological points,

Kemalism (Kemalist nationalism and anti-imperialism), socialism, developmentalism,

and finally Social democracy. 261

For example, Mahir ayan, a student leader in the late 1960s, to most Turkish

leftist students at the time, argued that Mustafa Kemal had raised the banner of

national liberation against imperialism and occupation and as such, he had been a

leftist.262 Doan Avcolu, one of the most influential Kemalist intellectuals in the

1960s, maintained that the path of national revolutionary development as a means of

catching up the modern civilization and rapid development was nothing but the

continuation of Ataturks reforms and the Kemalist thesis.263 Mehmet Ali Aybar, the

leader of the Turkish Labor Party, made the same points by arguing that

independence, populism and a national platform where all revolutionary

intelligentsia, workers and other progressive powers were the main features of the

Turkish socialism. 264

261
Sabiha Sertel, Trkiyede lerici Akmlar (stanbul: Ant Yaynlar, 1969), pp.217-218.
262
Mahir ayan: Kesintisiz Devrim 2-3 in Turhan Feyizolu, Mahir; Onlarn yks
(stanbul: Ozan Yaynclk, 11th edition, 2007), p.636.
263
Doan Avcolu, Trkiyenin Dzeni; Dn-Bugn-Yarn (Ankara: Bilgi Yaynevi,1968),
p.526.
264
Mehmet Ali Aybar, Bamszlk, Demokrasi, Sosyalizm; Semeler 1945-1967 (stanbul:
Gerek Yaynevi, 1968), p.494.

91
The weekly Yn (published between 1961-1967),265 the Socialist

Cultural Associations, (established in 1962), the students clubs, especially the Fikir

Kulpleri Federasyonu (Federations of Idea Clubs) and Dev-Gen (Turkish acronym

for Revolutionary Youth), Mihri Bellis National Democratic Revolution group and

finally the Turkish Labor Party, as the most important manifestations of Turkish

socialism in the 1960s, sought to harmonize the relations between individuals and

society in a new social order. 266 Shocked by the economic conditions of Turkey, they

combined Kemalist principles with the existing situations problems.267 In the view of

these radicals, the entire history of the Republic as well as the present time was to be

examined through Kemalism and socialism. The statist policy of the single-party era

was translated as Kapitalist Olmayan Yol or the non-capitalist path and was regarded

as the only road to rapid development.

The above-mentioned parties, especially Yn and the TLP, played pivotal


268
roles in spreading socialist ideas. Instead of questioning the system as a whole,

they sought to gain the allegiances of some segments of the existing order such as the

army. According to the communiqu of the Socialist Cultural Association, which was

signed by hundreds of intellectuals and published in Yn, both the Kemalist

265
Among its regular contributors were Doan Avcolu, Cahit Tanyol, Niyasi Berkes,
evket Sreyya Aydemir, lhan Seluk, Mmtaz Soysal, Turan Gne, Taner Timur, Srr
Hocaolu, Ahmet Taner Klal, Fethi Naci, Sadun Aren, Cetin Altan and also some Kurds,
as quoted in the previous chapter, such as Sait Kirmizitoprak. For a comprehensive study of
Yn, see Hikmet zdemir, Kalknmada Bir Strateji Aray: YN Hareketi, (Ankara: Bilgi
Yaynevi, 1986).
266
For a good example, see evket Sreyya Aydemir: Trk Sosyalizminin ilkeleri
(Sosyalist Kltr Derneine sunulan zel muhtra) Yn, no.56, (9 January 1963).
267
Stefanos Yerasimos, Az Gelimilik Srecinde Trkiye (stanbul: Gzlem Yaynlar,
1971), p.1670.
268
Sadun Aren, TP Olay, 19611971 (stanbul: Cem Yaynevi,1993), p. 209.

92
movement and the May 27 coup endeavored to remove social and economic

dependence of the population and their exploitation.269

As with the early Kemalist elite, who viewed themselves as men of progress

who brought development to the people despite the people, the leftists looked down

on the democratic process. Elections and the democratic progress would always result

in bringing dominant-conservative groups to government. From their point of view,

speedy economic development, progress and social justice could be achieved only

by a strong government headed by progressive intellectuals. 270 Murat Belge points

out that the misreading of the events in the 1950s and 1960 led the Turkish Left to

wrongly expect an alliance between working masses and so-called progressive

forces, that is to say, the intelligentsia, students and the army. 271

The Turkish socialist movement, especially after the second half of the 1960s,

struggled over the way they would achieve political power. The split was between the

Socialist Revolutionists (SR), who aimed to take political power through peaceful

elections, and the National Democratic Revolutionists (NDR), who sought a coalition

of vigorous powers, intelligentsia, army and students.272 As Belge underlines, the

question of power became an obsession for the left. Indeed, the power question

became so pervasive that the left spent more time on it than on other social issues

such as the impact of urbanization, factory condition and healthcare.273

269
Sosyalizm ve Toplumsal Mcadeleler Ansiklopedisi,6 (letiim yaynlar,1988), pp. 471-
472.
270
Karpat, Recent Developments, p.320.
271
Samim, p.154.
272
Although it called for a coalition of all progressive forces, it envisaged these three forces
as avant-garde. See Belli.
273
Samim, p. 170.

93
To the Turkish left, the Kurdish question was regarded as a natural outcome of

social and economic exploitation of the people in the region and one that would be

solved without any major effort after socialism had been achieved. Indeed, Turkish

socialists would repeat many of the same points made by the Kemalists as to the

reactionary and feudal nature of Kurdish nationalism. 274 Historically, the communist

and socialist movements did not only shy away from a discussion of the national

oppression of the Kurds, but did not make any ideological concessions to the Kurds

until the 1970s. The Turkish Communist party (TCP), for example, as early as 1930,

interpreted the Kurdish rebellions as the result of British imperialism and their
275
collaborators. Although the party recognized theoretically the right of self-

determination for the Kurds, this was seen conditional upon working together with

Turkish proletarian. As such, Kurdish rights were only accepted at the most abstract

level. In practice, they saw Kurdish people as reactionary and hostile to

modernization, a view they bequeathed to socialists and Marxists of the 1960s.

Hikmet Kvlcml, one of the rare communists who got into touch with the

Kurds while he was in prison in Elaz, argued that the Eastern Question was in

general a nationality question and Kurdish nationality in particular.276 By contrast, he

argued that the question of Kurdish nationality had remained as a tool for reaction in

the hands of imperialism. 277 This standpoint was common to many other figures too.

What had changed by the 1960s was that for the first time, the party, for it own sake,

274
Hamit Bozarslan, Some Remarks on Kurdish Historiographical Discourse in Turkey
(1919-1980), p.29.
275
nkilap Yolu Temmuz-Austos 1930 in Mete Tunay, Trkiyede Sol Akmlar-II (1925
1936), (stanbul: BDS Yaynlar, 1991), pp.185-205.
276
Hikmet Kvlcml, Uyarmak in Uyanmal (stanbul: Tarihsel Maddecilik Yaynlar,
1970), p.28.
277
Ibid., p.210.

94
would seek an alliance with Kurdish activists in order to strengthen the common

struggle against imperialism or common enemy. 278 However, although there was

no change in their reading of the past events until the 1960s, the TCP declared that it

supported Turkeys Kurds demands for recognition of their national existence and

democratic rights within Turkish borders. 279

In general, the Turkish socialists and neo-Kemalists in the 1960s invoked a

form of orientalist discourse. They denied that the Kurds had any independent agency

and regarded them as the tools of imperialism. According to socialists, aghas and

sheiks in the Kurdish regions all belonged to the same group of feudal reactionaries.

However, as Beiki rightly points out, both the Turkish left and Turkish socialists

could not distinguish between the two types of sheiks and aghas, the one who

collaborated with the system and imperialism and the one who devoted himself to the

Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish culture.280

The Affiliation between Kurds and the Leftists or the Second Phase of
Politicization of Kurdish Ethnicity

Socialism affected many Kurds in many ways. Foremost is the fact that

until the mid-1960s, the great emphasis on development had a positive effect on many

Kurds who also strove for the same ends. From the very onset of the second half of

1960s, although it was not the issue for the 1960s, when they, the Kurdish

intellectuals and students, began to voice cultural and political rights, they

278
Zeki Batmarn Raporu, in, TKP MK D Brosu 1965 Tartmalar (stanbul:
TSTAV 2004), p.80.
279
Yakup Demirin Bilal enin Grupu ve Fraksiyoncu Faaliyeti zerine Raporu-26
Nisan 1965, in TKP MK D Brosu 1965 Tartmalar (stanbul: TSTAV 2004), p.96.
280
smail Beiki, Cumhuriyet Halk Frkasnn Tz (1927) ve Krt Sorunu (stanbul:
Komal, 1978), p.249.

95
rediscovered the right of self-determination with which justified their demands. At the

same time, as mentioned above, socialism in Turkey in the 1960s had undergone

some changes in terms of its attitude towards the Kurdish question and the struggle of

young Kurdish intelligentsia. While it remained in alignment with the Soviet policies

of supporting the Kemalist progressive movement against the reactionary Kurds, in

the 1960s, not only communists but also Turkish socialists, including some of neo-

Kemalists, due to increasing interaction with the Kurdish activists changed their

attitude.281 Indeed, mer An, who was active in the TLP in the 1960s and joined the

TCP in the 1970s pointed out the Communist movement, did not have a serious

organization base in the East until the 1970s. 282

Marxism (or perhaps more accurately Marxist-Leninism) as an ideology, in

contrast to Turkish nationalism, not only recognized the national struggle but also

provided a relatively much more inclusive identity one based on class. Moreover,

Marxists and socialists in the 1960s opposed to the political right, which underlined

the unity of nation-state and its citizens, but legitimized national struggle on a class

base. 283 However, Kurdish nationalists, socialists and Marxists concept of common

enemy and their ultimate goals and priorities did not come to together. For instance,

when Kurdish activists began to insist on the existence of Kurdish ethnicity and

language in addition to struggle against underdevelopment and inequality, Turkish

281
For instance, Doan Avcolu furnishes a striking example of this interaction. Even
though he remained loyal to his Kemalist vision, he himself wrote an article titled Krt
Meselesi. See Doan Avcolu, Krt Meselesi, Yn, no. 194, (1966).
282
mer An, interview by the author, tape recording, Istanbul, Turkey, 7 April 2009.
283
Hamit Bozarslan,Trkiyede Krt Sol Hareketi,in Modern Trkiyede Siyasi Dnce,
Cilt. 8 Sol,ed. Murat Gltekingil (stanbul: letiim Yaynlar, 2007) pp. 1170-1171.

96
socialists considered it petty bourgeois nationalism and detrimental to the socialist

movement.284

In the relatively liberal atmosphere of the 1960s, Marxist and socialist

literature appeared and drew the attention of students and intellectuals. Many young

Kurds also followed leftist journals and read Marxist classics (which had often been

deliberately mistranslated into Turkish). Most of the Kurds who later joined the TLP

joined the Socialist Culture Association (SCA). Naci Kutlay and Tarik Ziya Ekinci,

for example, were active in the SCA. 285 As Ekinci points out, those who found the

TLP branch in Diyarbakir in 1963 were the offspring of the SCA. 286 In addition, the

election of Mehmet Ali Aybar to the TLP leadership encouraged some other Kurds,

such as Canip Yildirim, to join the socialist movement.287

However, the Turkish socialists shift towards supporting Kemalism and

the army as agents of progress accelerated the split between the Kurdish activists and

Turkish socialists.288 As many of those affiliated with the socialist movement in the

1960s would confess later, although the Turkish socialists seemed to be against any

kind of nationalism, they were quite nationalist and did not even question their

attitude. Yet the Kurds were accused of being chauvinist and divisive since they did

not focus on the economic aspects of their common enemy. As Mehdi Zana, one of

the most important figures both in the 1960s and in 1970s, writes, their relationship

284
Yeni Ak for example, was regarded so. Mehmet Ali Aslan interview.
285
Kutlay, Anlarm, p.102.
286
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Krt sorunu ve Aybar Cumhuriyet, Mehmet Ali Aybar zel Eki, 21
July 1995, p.14.
287
Mirolu, p.242.
288
Tarik Ziya Ekinci, Sol Siyaset Sorunlar; Trkiye i Partisi ve Krt Aydnlanmas
(stanbul: Cem Yaynclk, 2004), p.313.

97
with the Turkish socialists in the 60s was a unilateral one, especially in terms of the

national question. He argues that since the Kurds had not decided what to do, they

were expected to follow socialists and support whatsoever the Turkish socialists

decided to do. 289

All in all, whereas initially both the Kurdish and Turkish socialist shared the

same concerns such as the development of the country and the region and eliminating

social injustice, starting from the mid-1960s when the Turkish Socialist movement as

a whole witnessed a fundamental split in terms of ideology and personal conflicts, the

Kurds, too, although they remained loyal to the TLP until the late 1960s, deviated

from mainstream Turkish socialist thought.

289
Mehdi Zana, Sevgili Leyla; Uzun Bir Srgnd O Gece (stanbul: Belge yaynlar, 1995),
p.56.

98
CHAPTER FOUR

THE TURKISH LABOR PARTY AND THE KURDS;


THE DOU MESELES 1961-1971

This chapter deals with the relationship between the new generations of

Kurdish intellectuals and the Turkish Labor Party. This relationship is essential to

understand, given that the TLP was the organization in which many Kurds got their

first taste of politics. It is also important to consider because of the importance the

Kurdish activists played in the Turkish socialist movement in general. During this

period, it is still not possible to talk about a fully developed Kurdish movement.

Kurdism, or rather Eastism, was still very much tied to the general socialist struggle

in Turkey. However, many of the experiences of Kurdish activists during the 1960s

would prove central in the development of a more defined Kurdish movement during

the 1970s and 1980s.

The Turkish Labor Party

In 1960, there was already a Socialist Party operating under the name of the

Turkish Socialist Party. Cemal Grsel, who became president after the coup, gave an

interview to the daily Vatan and commented on the existence of the socialist party.

He stated that, There exists a socialist party in Turkey. I tolerate their activities. A

socialist party is not a danger for the country unless it involves itself in malign goals.

However, it seems that it is still not strong enough to enter onto the political stage.290

290
Trkiyede bir sosyalist partisi vardr. Onlarn faaliyetine msamaha ettim. Sosyalist bir
parti Trkiye iin zararl deildir. Belki de faydal olaca kanaatindeyim; iin iine kt
maksatlar girmedikeama grne gre bu parti sahneye kacak kadar kuvvetli

99
However, the older Turkish Socialist Party was subsumed into the TLP in the next

year, just after newer partys establishment. In early 1961, twelve trade unionists

combined to support the foundation of a party to promote workers rights in 1961.

The result was that on 13 February 1961 the Turkish Labor Party was officially

registered.291 In the following day, the party founders stated, The party was founded

in order to protect the rights of the working class. Hitherto worker have been melted

into various parties cadre, however, now there exists a party which represents the

working class per se. 292

However, due to a number of factors, perhaps most significantly the lack of

experience of the partys founders, the TLP was unable to gain much attention. In

January 1962, when the idea of establishing another party, alanlar Partisi

(Workers Party) supported by Trk-, was announced, the trade unionists started to

search for a party leader who would both secure their party and promote its

expansion. The proposed candidate was Mehmet Ali Aybar, a Marxist intellectual

who had been active in socialist and leftist movement since the1940s293 and with

deildir. Vatan , 10 October. 1960, quoted in Aybar, TP Tarihi, (stanbul: BDS yaynlar,
1988), p.74.
291
Founders were Avni Erakaln (chairman) Kemal Trkler (vice-chairman),aban Yldz,
brahim Gzelce, Kemal Nebiolu, Salih zkarabay, Rza Kuas, brahim Denizciler, Adnan
Arkn, Ahmet Mulu, Hseyin Usluba, Saffet Gkszolu.
292
Ezilen ii snfnn haklarn korumak iin kurulduunu, imdiye kadar iilerin, eitli
partilerin kadrolar iinde eriyip gittiini, ama artk ii snfn temsil eden bir parti
bulunduunu Vatan 14 February 1961. Quoted in Uur Mumcu, Aybar ile Sylei;
Sosyalizm ve Bamszlk (Ankara: Tekin Yaynevi, 1990), p.27.
293
According to Kemal Slker, following names were among those whom the founders
thought to propose the party leadership, Prof. Z.F. Fndkolu, Ali Rza Ar, Dr. Ekmel
Zadil, Mehmet Ali Aybar, Orhan Arsal, Sabahattin Zaim, Sedat Erbil, Yaar Kemal, Prof.
Sabri Esat Siyavugil, Esat Tekeli, Nadir Nadi, Esat aa. See, Kemal Slker, 100 Soruda
Trkiyede i Hareketi (stanbul: Gerek Yaynevi, 1973), p.151.

100
some of his comrades had also attempted to found another socialist party after the

1960 military coup. 294

As Sabri Mustafa Sayar argues in his important book on political parties,

personal leadership is a salient feature of all Turkish parties.295 Aybar became the

party leader on May 12, 1962. Together with Aybar, many other socialist and

Marxist intellectuals joined the party, too. This included even those Marxists and

socialists who had been banned from politics due to their violation of Laws 141 and

142 of the Turkish penal code. Indeed, not only did they support Aybar but also were

affiliated with the party. 296

In addition, Tark Ziya Ekinci, Naci Kutlay and Kemal Burkay, all of whom

were involved in Socialist Culture Associations, joined the party. This group, along

with Mehdi Zana, his colleague Niyazi Usta (Tatlc), Mehmet Ali Aslan, Canip

Yldrm and Tahsin Ekinci, was the first and to large extent the most important

section of the Kurdish intelligentsia to join the party and were responsible for the

establishment of almost all of its local branches in Kurdish Anatolia. They together

formed a group that earned the name the Doulular (Easterners). As such, the party

became a platform for trade unions, leftist intellectuals and Kurds (See figure 4).

294
Mehmet Ali Aybar, TP Tarihi;1, pp.111-112.
295
Sayar, p.135.
296
etin Yetkin, Trkiyede Soldaki Blnmeler, 19601970: Tartmalar-Nedenler- zm
nerileri (Ankara: Toplum Yaynevi, 1970), p.232.

101
The Turkish Labor
Party, 1961-1971

Trade Unionists Intelligentsia Doulu (Kurds)

Pro-Turkish Communist Pro-National Democratic Pro-Socialist Revolution


Party Revolution

Students Emek Group Aybar Group

Figure 4. Composition of the Turkish Labor Party.

Under the leadership of Aybar, the party managed to bring together all

socialist groups, including students, under the rubric of non-capitalist development

and anti-imperialism. This unity, despite some minor clashes, survived until 1965

when the party also proved its success in the general elections and sent fifteen

deputies to the assembly. However, each group in the party, specifically, the trade

unionists, the intelligentsia, consisting of members of the pro-Turkish Communist

Party, pro-National Democratic Revolution (also known as pro-Mihri Belli), and pro-

Socialist Revolution as well as the Doulus, sought to strengthen their position. This

led to serious conflicts especially after 1965, which will be discussed in the following

pages.

Shortly after Aybars participation, the Turkish Socialist Party merged with

the TLP. Aybar then embarked on an extensive tour of the East after he assumed the

leadership of the party. In 1963, the TLP received a further boost when Niyazi

102
Arnasl, a senator from Ankara, also joined the party. All above-mentioned
297
developments strengthened the party and increased its public profile. Moreover,

some popular figures such as the journalist etin Altan also contributed to the partys

expansion. The students, who played a major role in creating the pre-coup

atmosphere, and who had become increasingly politicized and prone to bouts of civil

disorder 298 also took great interest in the TLP.

Formation of the Party Identity

Although the party is known as having been the first and most important

socialist and Marxist party in Turkey in the 1960s, as is evident from its program and

regulations, the TLPs socialist and Marxist identity was constituted gradually. Indeed

the party leader, Aybar, did not even use the term socialist until 1966. According to

its first regulations, the TLP is a party of all citizens irrespective of race, religion,
299
sect, complexion, sex or class who adopts party program and regulations.

However, the party regulations after the election of Aybar declared:

the TLP is a political organization marching to power by legal means, and is


of the Turkish working class and all strata and classes of proletariats (of
laborer and of small peasants, of salaried employees and wage earners, of
artisans, of small tradesmen and self-employed persons of small income, and
of progressive youth and toplumcu300 intellectuals) which gather around its
leadership. 301

297
Aren, TP Olay, 19611971, pp.90-91.
298
Landau, Radical Politics in Modern Turkey, (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974), pp.29-30.
299
TP, rk, din, mezhep, deri rengi, kadn-erkek ayrm gzetmeden ve hangi snftan
gelirse gelsin, parti program ve tzn benimsemi, emekten yana olan btn yurttalara
saflarn ak tutar. Trkiye i Partisi Genel Merkezi, Trkiye i Partisi Tz 19
Nisan 1962, (stanbul: stanbul Matbaas), p.5.
300
The term Toplumcu is translated to English as Socialist. However, in Turkish and the
way the party used this term does not mean Socialist. The party would use the term Sosyalist
in 1966.

103
The party programme, which was accepted in 1964, states that,

The Turkish Labor Party is a political organization of toplumcu intellectuals,


of laborers, of landless peasants and of peasants in need of land, of artisans, of
small tradesmen, of salaried and wage earners, of self-employed persons of
small income, in short, of all citizens who live on their labor, and who have
gathered around the Turkish working class and its historical and democratic
leadership which is based on science. 302

At the same time, the TLP placed much hope in the 1961 Constitution.

According to the party leadership, once entirely fulfilled, the constitution would lead

them to solve many of the problems they faced. Behice Boran, a TLP deputy elected

in the 1965 elections and who would go on to become party leader in 1970, declared

that the TLPs mottos were a precise and complete fulfillment of the Constitution

with its economic and social content[they called for] full national

independencethe abolition of bilateral agreements between Turkey and the United

States and the shutting down of all American bases[and posited that]a second

national liberation war was in motion under the leadership of the working class. 303

The TLP was not the only party to adopt this form of leftist anti-imperialist discourse.

301
Trkiye ii partisi, Trk ii snfnn ve onun demokratik ncl etrafnda toplanm
btn emeki snf ve tabakalara (rgat ve kk kyllerin, aylkl ve cretlilerin,
zanaatkarlarn, kk esnaf ve dar gelirli serbest meslek sahipleri ile ilerici genliin ve
toplumcu aydnlarn) kanun yolundan iktidara yryen, siyasi tekilatdr. Trkiye i
Partisi Genel Merkezi, Trkiye i Partisi Tz, (Ankara. Ankara Basm ve Ciltevi,
1967)
302
Trkiye i Partisi, Trk ii snfnn ve onun tarihi, bilime dayanan demokratik
ncl etrafnda toplanm, onunla kader birliinin bilin ve mutluluuna varm
toplumcu aydnlarla rgatlarn, topraksz ve az toprakl kyllerin, zanaatkrlarn, kk
esnafn, aylkl ve cretlilerin, dargelirli serbest meslek sahiplerinin, ksacas, emeiyle
yayan btn yurttalarn kanun yolundan iktidara yryen siyasi tekilatdr. TP,
Trkiye i Partisi Program (stanbul: Eser Matbaaclk, 1964), p.14.
303
Ekonomik-sosyal muhtevasyla anayasann eksiksiz ve tastamam uygulanmas, tam milli
bamszlk, ikili antlamalarn, Amerikan stlerinin kaldrlmas, Natodan klmas, emeki
snflarn nclnde 2. Milli Kurtulu Sava TPin bata gelen sloganlardr. Behice Boran,
Trkiye ve Sosyalizm Sorunlar (stanbul: Gn Yaynlar, 1968), p.274.

104
From the mid-1960s onwards, the concept of a second national liberation struggle

against US imperialism was an integral party of Turkish leftist discourse. Much like

the Yn Declaration of 1961, which hundreds of intellectuals signed, Aybars call for

the formation of a National Front, a common stage for all progressive forces to

protect country from more corruption and dependency and from which to launch the

struggle for the rights, liberties and interests of laborers also is worth mentioning.

Atatrklk, or Ataturkism, a new way of romanticizing Atatrks persona

and his period, also constituted one of cornerstones of the TLPs discourse. Bar

nl argues that this was a tactical move and that the party and Aybar deliberately

overemphasized Ataturkism to avoid accusations. 304 However, Artun nsal claims

that they, the TLP leadership as well as the rest of the socialist movement, sincerely

believed in Ataturkism.305 It is quite striking that both Aybar and Boran, the two most

influential figures in the party, evaluated the single-party era and Mustafa Kemal

[Atatrk] from a socialist perspective, and neither of them criticized the single-party

era or Mustafa Kemals policies.

Aybar argued that Kemalism, the ideology of unconditional independence,

was Leftist. 306 Boran stated that the single-party government, took its most severe

shape after the death of Ataturk, suppressed the working class movements and left

political activities much more than the irtica307 (meaning the DP) did. 308 The party

304
Bar nl, . Bir Siyasal Dnr Olarak Mehmet Ali Aybar ve Dnemi, (stanbul:
letiim Yaynlar, 2002), p.205.
305
Artun nsal, TPin Ulusal Bamszlk Anlay, in, Gndz Vassaf, Mehmet Ali
Aybar Sempozyumlar, 1997-2002; zgrleme Sorunlar, (stanbul: Tarih Vakf Yaynlar,
2003), p.249.
306
Mehmet Ali Aybar, TP Tarihi;1, pp.126130.
307
Irtica lit. objector is used as a synonym for conservative and reactionary political
movement.

105
program also confirmed this stance by stating that after Atatrks death, free thought

increasingly was more and more suppressed and toplumcu publication was banned. 309

Also, the party viewed itself as the true Ataturkist movement since it was a hundred-

percent indigenous doctrine and acted in accordance with Ataturkism although it was

inspired by contemporary realities. 310

The TLP as well as all other socialist groups in the 1960s evaluated the pre-

coup era DP government as having been a deviation from the independent Turkish

policy and as an irtica (reaction). Therefore, the party and all other socialist groups

cherished the military coup and on many occasions were eager to show their

appreciations for the revolutionary army. When Muzaffer Karan, a military officer

who had been exiled along with his 13 fellows from the National Unity Committee

joined the party (and was elected to the assembly from Denizli in 1965), Aybar gave

a statement to the press declaring that a connection had been made between the TLP

and the 27 May movement. There was a connection already; however, it was

consummated in a very real way. 311 In addition, 28 other officers from various ranks

joined the party before the 1965 general elections. 312

It is important to mention the TLPs stance on issues such as land reform,

urbanization, and peasantry. Although the party always insisted on being the political

organization of the working class, except for the DISK (Revolutionary Workers

308
Atatrkn lmnden sonra en sert eklini alan tek parti ynetimi irtica kadar, hatta
ondan da fazla, sol siyasi hareketleri, ii hareketlerini bastrd. Behice Boran, Trkiye ve
Sosyalizm Sorunlar, p.30.
309
Trkiye i Partisi II. Byk Kongresi (2024 Kasm 1966 Malatya), (stanbul: Okur
Matbaas, 1966), p.3.
310
Mehmet Ali Aybar, Bamszlk, Demokrasi, Sosyalizm; Semeler 1945-1967, p.222.
311
Cumhuriyet, 28-29 May, 1965, also quoted in Ahmad and Ahmad. p.291.
312
Cumhuriyet, 11-May July,1965, Ahmad and Ahmad, , p.293.

106
Confederation) established in 1967 by those who broke away with the Trk-, it

could not build strong ties with the working classes.313 For example, Aybar stated that

they had become acquainted with the workers by the help of the workers who had

founded the party. 314 Even when the historical strike broke out on June 15, 1970 the

TLP as well as all other socialist movement groups, especially the pro-NDR students,

were not even aware of what was happening..315

Since the peasantry consisted of more than sixty percent of the population, the

party soon realized that without their support it could not attain power. Therefore, the

peasantry was one of main concerns of the party. Boran declared that the road to

socialist government ran through the villages. Without their votes, it would be
316
impossible for the party to achieve an electoral breakthrough ever. As will be

mentioned later, especially during the election campaigns the party paid great

attention to the peasantry, promising that if it came to power, it would ameliorate

their living conditions, expropriate more than 500 dnm owned by individuals and

distribute the rest of the land free to those who either did not have any land or who

had insufficient amounts of land. 317

Regarding leftist students, who were among one of the most dynamic

segments of the society, the TLP seemed to be a progressive organization. The TLP

313
Even though trade unions were allowed in 1952, and the recognition of the right to strike
came in 1963. It is true that the number of workers was increasing. However, Trk-is, the
biggest and the only confederation until 1967, for example would declare that it would not
support the TLP in the general elections in 1965. On the other hand, the Turkish working
class was quite nationalized and it did not seem that it would gather around class bases.
314
Mehmet Ali Aybar, TP Tarihi;1,p.217.
315
Sadun Aren, TP Olay, 19611971,p.113.
316
Behice Boran, Trkiye ve Sosyalizm Sorunlar, p.159.
317
Trkiye i Partisi Genel Merkezi, alma Raporu (nc Byk Kongre 9-12 Kasm
1968, Ankara), (stanbul: Latin Matbaas, 1968).

107
promised both to open up new universities across the country and a new curriculum

which would meet the countrys needs. Although the students generally supported the

party up until the late 1960s, they broke away from the party due mainly to their

increasing radicalization. Prior to the 1960 coup, the objective of the leftist students

had been to protect the Kemalist legacy against the perceived Islamist reaction

represented by the election of the DP. However, in the post-coup era, the TLP

discourse of anti-imperialism and of a second national war of liberation gained

popular currency amongst students.318

Finally, one of the most important documents produced by the party apart

from the partys regulations and program was a small booklet entitled TP.linin El

Kitab (the manual for party members), which dealt with various questions such as

migration and religion. In this booklet, the partys final transformation in terms of its

identity can be distinguished. 319 The party sought a holistic worldview and tried to

tackle the major issues Turkey faced during that time. For instance, the TLP put

forward a solution to the Cyprus issue, which had become a major concern during the

mid-1960s. The party suggested a federative solution and advocated the islands full

independence. 320

Although the party engaged in a wide range of issues, from the agrarian

question to the students to Cyprus to, one of the most important issues to the party

was the economy. State led development and the nationalization of the commanding

heights of the economy were seen as formulas what would ensure not only rapid

318
Igor Lipovsky, The Socialist Movements in Turkey 19601980 (Leiden: E.J Brill, 1992),
p.118.
319
For the partys stand on other issues see Trkiye i Partisi Genel Merkezi, TP.linin El
Kitab (Ankara: nar Matbaas, 1969).
320
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Sol Siyaset Sorunlar, p.230.

108
economic growth and a non-capitalist way of development, but also full national
321
independence. However, it should be pointed out that the It should be that the

TLP always was in favor of remaining within the framework of the constitution and

pledged to come to power through the peaceful electoral process.

The impact of the TLP was much greater than its electoral success. It provided

a new set of ideas not only for the Kurdish militants and young activists, but also for

the mainstream political parties, most notably the RPP. In fact, the bulk of votes of

the TLP came from well off workers, intellectuals and students, groups which had

previously supported the RPP. As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons that the term

socialist was favored instead of toplumcu was that in 1966 the RPP had started to use

similar language. In fact, the RPPs slide to the center left (Ortann solu) had resulted

in a serious factional struggle within the party.322 Moreover, the TLP discourse

greatly affected the student movements of 1968.

Intra-Party Conflicts and the Party Congresses an End to Discussions

The TLP, which had started out as an interest group for the trade union

movement, under Aybars leadership broadened into an umbrella group

encompassing all areas of the leftist movement and influencing even those groups

which were not tied to the party. The TLP radically developed a holistic critique of

Turkeys political establishment and developed an ideology which combined

elements of neo-Kemalism, neo-statism and socialism. The party managed to bring

together almost all leftist discontent against the countrys situation. Gn Zileli, in his
321
TP, Trkiye i Partisi Program, pp.64-66.
322
Yunus Emres MA thesis is focused on this subject. See Yunus Emre, The Genesis of the
Left of Center in Turkey: 1965-1967, M.A. Thesis, the Atatrk nstitute, Boazii
University, 2007.

109
noteworthy book, argues that the all schisms that occurred among student movements

and among other socialist groups, essentially derived from intra party strives of

leaders for the power. 323 Zilelis remark is pertinent to the TLPs case.

However, starting from 1962, when the party announced its view that the

working class was the vanguard of the movement, splits began to appear. Tensions

exploded after the 1964 Party Congress in zmir, when Aybar was reelected and his

program was accepted. The ensuing incident, known as 13ler Olay (incident of 13s)

resulted in the expulsion and resignation of 13 members of the party. 324

The second Congress, which was held in Malatya between 20-24 November

1966, witnessed further division within the party. In the Congress, the pro-National

Democratic Revolution group (NDR) led by Mihri Belli, a former Communist who

opposed the Socialist Revolution (SR) faction. The NDR faction envisaged a two-

phase revolution on the way to socialism and as such focused on peaceful electoral

process which was the party official strategy. However, it soon became apparent that

they would be unable to take over the party. It is significant that this split occurred

after the great success of the party in the general elections in 1965 when it sent 15

deputies to the assembly. Thereafter, the pro-NDR group would not only act as a

party within the party but also would severely criticize party policy and leadership.

Furthermore, after 1968, Bellis ideas started to become influential among students.

This prompted the majority of students to break away from the party. Even the most

influential leftist student organization, Dev-Gen (Revolutionary Youth), successor of

the FKF (Federation of Idea Clubs) declared that it would not support the TLP.

323
Gn Zileli, Yarlma (1954-1972) (stanbul: letiim, 2004), p.395.
324
Rasih Nuri leri, Trkiye i Partisinde Oportnist Merkeziyetilik (1966-1968)
(stanbul: Yaln Yaynlar, 1987), pp.8-9.

110
In 1968, however, the most stunning conflict occurred among pro-SR

(Socialist Revolution) intellectuals. The proposal of five, known as the 5li nerge,

signed by Sadun Aren, Nihat Sargn, Minnetullah Haydarolu, aban Erik and Behice

Boran stated that the party was not responsible for Aybars statements. The

signatories claimed that Aybar had deviated from socialism and he wanted to

establish his own personal administration, which was against the party regulations. 325

This fivers group was also known as the Emek (Labor) group, on account of the

journal that they published. Although it is commonly argued that the dispute occurred

because of the disagreement over the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August

1968, Boran states that she herself criticized the event as strongly as Aybar did. 326

The third grand congress of the party met in November 1968. Despite the fact that

Aybar was reelected to party leadership and Sadun Aren was elected to party general

assembly, it prefigured the inevitable dissolution of the party.

By 1969, almost all opposition within the party was silenced. The TLP had

managed to get rid of the pro-NDR and the pro-TCP (Turkish Communist Party)

groups. This prompted students who were either part of the pro-NDR or already had

turned to extra- parliamentary opposition, to turn to armed struggle in the early 1970s,

a shift which the TLP denounced. 327 On November 15 1969, in the aftermath of a

disastrous electoral performance which saw the partys parliamentary contingence

reduced from 15 to 2, Aybar resigned from his role as party leader. Mehmet Ali

Aslan, a young Doulu lawyer, was elected to party chairmanship where he stayed

325
Uur Mumcu, Aybar ile Sylei; Sosyalizm ve Bamszlk, p.56.
326
Uur Mumcu, Bir Uzun Yry (Ankara: Tekin Yaynevi, 1990), p.63.
327
Trkiye i Partisi Genel Merkezi, Trkiye i Partis Genel Ynetim Kurulu Raporu,
(Drdnc Olaan Byk Kongre, 29.30.31 Ekim 1970- Ankara) (Ankara: enyuva
Matbaas, 1970), pp.24-25.

111
just a month. Although Aslan was elected as party chairman, Aybars defeat led also

to a decline in Doulu groups support to the party.

The Partys Fourth Congress, the last one, held in Ankara on 29-31 November

1970. Behice Boran became the party leader, while almost no one from the Aybar

group was elected to party organs in the Congress. 328 As will be examined later, in

this congress, although both Doulu group and pro-Aybar group withdrew their

support of the party, Boran took great pains to keep the young Kurdish students of the

DDKO on their side since the students of the pro-NDR were no longer aligned with

the party. 329 The next section will focus on the shift within the TLP which resulted in

the partys historical resolution declaring that there were a Kurdish people living in

the East of Turkey. Finally, the same period saw the TLP redefine itself from a mass

party to a Leninist party. Specifically, a party that saw itself as a vanguardist

movement based on scientific socialism.330

Easterners, the Turkish Labor Party, and the Eastern Question

As already mentioned, up until 1960, the Kurds had remained aloof not only

from the Leftist groups, but also from Turkish nationalism, in its opposition to some

of the actions of the state. The Turkish Labor Party was no exception regarding its

understanding of the region and the population that lived there. The presence of

Aybar attracted some Kurdish socialists, who considered themselves Sosyalist

Doulular (Socialist Easterners) who functioned as a bridge between the leftist

328
Trkiye i Partisi Genel Merkezi, Trkiye i Partisi IV. Byk Kongresi (29-31 Ekim
1970 Ankara); Alnan Kararlar ve Yaplan Seimlerin Sonular.
329
Mmtaz Kotan, Tarihin Karartlmas Eylemi zerine: Devrimci Dou Kltr Ocaklar
Somut bir rnek DDKO BR, no. 6 2006, (originally derived from Mmtaz Kotan,
Yenilginin zdmleri, 2003, pp. 374-451)
330
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Sol Siyaset Sorunlar; p.315.

112
movement and Kurdish Anatolia. This group represented the militants of the party in

the region, employing Duvergers term, those who form the nucleus of the partys

basic groups and regularly attend meetings, spread the partys slogans, help to

organize its propaganda, and prepare its electoral campaigns. 331

Yet, as will be seen below, those whose identity was already ethnicized and

considered themselves Kurds, and who mainly resided in the Kurdish regions also

became party militants. Although it is hard to make a clear distinction between the

two groups, Easterners and Kurds, save for the fact that in some sense both were

ethnically Kurdish, it can be argued that the following conflicts derived essentially

from the way they chose to describe themselves and the problems that they faced.

Those who can be considered to have been militants of the party comprised

three different groups. Firstly, the group of young socialist Kurdish intellectuals,

many of whom had higher educations and worked mainly as either lawyers, medical

doctors or publishers, established and organized virtually all party branches across the

region. Among them were Tark Ziya Ekinci, Naci Kutlay, Mehmet Ali Aslan, Kemal

Burkay, Tahsin Ekinci, Edip Karahan and Canip Yldrm, rfi Akkoyunlu, Yaar

Kaya, Enver Aytekin and Musa Anter.

The second group consisted of those who were either supporters of the TKDP

or nonpartisan Kurds (primarily the Kurdish mullahs or artisans). This group included

Sait Eli, Abdulkerim Ceylan (Mele Abdlkerim), Mahmut Okutucu (Mele Mahmut),

Sait Krmztoprak, Muhterem Biimli, Hseyin Musa San ( Feqi Hseyin), Nazmi

Balka and Osman Aydn, Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, Fehmi Firat (Fehmiy Bilal)

Niyazi Tatlc (Usta) and Mehdi Bilici (Zana) and Abdurrahman Uar. This group

331
Duverger, p.110.

113
also supported the formation of TLP branches in the region and helped to spread the

partys base.

The third group, though there is a scarcity of information, consisted of

Kurdish students, not only in Istanbul and in Ankara, but in Kurdish Anatolia as well.

They also helped the party organization and played a considerable role in the election

campaigns. By the 1970 there were dozens of Kurdish student associations and clubs,

most of which functioned as hemeri (fellow townsmen) support groups and

associations. The DDKO was an attempt to unite all these disparate Kurdish

associations on the part of the Kurdish youth. It should be pointed out that the borders

between the above-mentioned groups were not entirely clear. As such, many of those

belonging to the first or second group were also involved in the foundation of the

DDKO.

These three factions of Kurds within the party generally got along with each

other and did not clash, for two major reasons; namely political ambition and

ideological differences on the Kurdish issue. Despite this, they faced a deep crisis in

1970. At the same time, the participation of these groups in the TLP not only changed

the partys stance towards Kurdish Anatolia and its population, but also encouraged

the party and its militants in the region. This led the Kurds within the TLP to focus

more on the region and its unique problems, to wit, the suppression of Kurdish

ethnicity and economic backwardness.

However, as the following Table shows, party expansion in terms of party

members was limited to less than two thousand people. The table relies on the partys

documents and represents the peak of the party expansion in terms of membership,

specifically in the year 1968. As a result of the partys policy which gave priority to

the organization and sought to transform itself to be a grassroots labor party, the party

114
branches were formed in 22 provinces and 184 districts within just thirteen days.332

As noted above, Kurdish socialists participated in the formation of many of these

branches. Although it was generally hard to find enough people to form the party, it

also striking that none of the partys members was women. 333

Table 2 Regional Distribution of Turkish Labor Party's Members


Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean Central Anatolia Black Sea East and Southeast Anatolia

1,596; 13%
1,094; 9%

2,019; 16% 7,986; 62%


Source: Dou Perinek, Trkiye i Partisi yelerinin Snf Yaps, Aydnlk
Sosyalist Dergi, no, 3 (January, 1969), p.208.

Whereas the party had been organized only in Diyarbakr in 1963 and ran in

local elections in the same year, prior to the general elections of 1965, with the

exception of Bitlis, Erzincan and Hakkri,334 party branches were formed in eleven

cities and several districts in the fifteen provinces of the region. As in other parts of

the country, the TLP was suppressed and faced severe attacks, which made it almost

impossible to form party branches. The impetus for the rapid expansion of the party

332
Artun nsal, Trkiye i Partisi (19611971) (stanbul: Tarih Vakf Yurt Yaynlar,
2002) p.235.
333
Dou Perinek, Trkiye i Partisi yelerinin Snf Yaps, Aydnlk Sosyalist
Dergi,no. 3 (January 1969), p.220.
334
Although the TLP in first place was organized in the province of Gaziantep, which was
deemed as the East as well, in my analysis, I do not include Gaziantep.

115
in the Eastern region, though not so easy, was undoubtedly the first group of Kurdish

socialists and their collaboration with the other two groups.

The expansion of the party in Kurdish Anatolia went as follows: First, in

Diyarbakr, the most important eastern city in the region, then Malatya, Urfa (in

Siverek), Mardin (in Derik), Van, Mu, Ar, Kars, Siirt, Elaz and Tunceli. 335 As a

matter of fact, except for the Malatya branch, which was formed by Hayrettin Abac,

a former socialist, and Siirt branch which was formed by Enver Aytekin, Tark Ziya

Ekinci, Tahsin Ekinci, Naci Kutlay, Mehmet Ali Aslan and Kemal Burkay were the

main force behind it.336 In addition, prior to the 1969 elections, Mehmet Ali Aslan

formed party branches in Erzurum and Bitlis, too.337

The first group managed to gain influence within the TLP through

participation in the General Committee. Influential easterners included Tark Ziya

Ekinci, Mehmet Ali Aslan in 1966, and in 1968 Naci Kutlay, and Kemal Burkay.

However, none of above persons was elected to the party administration in the Fourth

Grand Congress in 1970, which was held after Aybar resigned from the party

leadership. As will be discussed below in detail, besides intra-party conflicts, the

competition among Kurdish groups and their influence within the party would

determine its stance on the Kurdish question. However, with the exception of a few

minor clashes such as the TKDPs attempt to seize control of the TLP Diyarbakir

branch, 338 and a conflict between Musa Anter and Tark Ziya Ekinci and Canip

335
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Sol Siyaset Sorunlar, p.300.
336
For more details, see Burkay, Kutlay, T.Ekinci and Aslan.
337
Mehmet Ali Aslan, interview by the author, tape recording, Istanbul, Turkey, 31 January
2009.
338
Tarik Ziya Ekinci, Sol Siyaset Sorunlar, p.302.

116
Yldrm,339 relations between all three sections of Kurdish activism remained

peaceful up to the late 1960s.

The Turkish Labor Party and the Formation of Dou Meselesi

In light of what was discussed above, it is important to recognize that the

partys stand on the Eastern Question was not constant. Aybar, just after his election

as TLP leader, embarked on a tour of the East. The partys first approach to the issue

appeared in 1963 during the partys General Meeting held in Gaziantep. Aybars

statement at the meeting, which was also included in the partys program and

remained as the main policy of the party on the region until the late 1960s, declared

under the title of development of the East that;

Today, the East and Southeastern provinces, according to masses of their


citizens and civil servants, are a region of destitutionparallel to the regions
underdevelopment, those citizens inhabit there are socially and culturally
backward. Besides, from those citizens who speak Kurdish and Arabic or
belong to Alevi sect, are being discriminated against owing to this situation.
We confront the difficult issues of the cause of this state of affairs. It is a
national duty to be taken serious to find an optimum and humane remedy in
accordance with our national interests.340

It continues:

Secondly, the East and Southeastern provinces must be freed from being a
region of destitution. Taking into account the fact that hitherto they have been
neglected, factories, hospitals, libraries, theaters and roads must the
constructed in these provinces. The most qualified, humane and public-
minded civil servants must be sent to those provinces so that these citizens
will feel that they are real children of the motherland and would not be seized

339
Musa Anter, Hatralarm 1-2, p.213.
340
Bugn dou ve gneydou illerimiz byk vatanda ve memur kitlesi gznde bir
mahrumiyet blgesidirblgenin ekonomik geriliine paralel olarak buradaki vatandalar
sosyal ve kltrel bakmdan geri durumdadrlar. stelik bu vatandalarmzdan kte ve
Arapa konuanlar veya alevi mezhebinden olanlar bu durumlar sebebiyle ayrma
uramaktadrlar. Bunun dourduu etin meselelerle kar karyayz. Ulusal
menfaatlerimize en uygun, en insanca zm yollarn bulmak ihmal edilmiyecek bir yurt
vazifesidir.TP, Trkiye i Partisi Program, p.110.

117
with the instigations of internal and external enemies. There is no other way
but this for solution. 341

Furthermore, the party programme promised to solve the economic problems

of the region with a comprehensive land reform that promised to redistribute land to

those who had insufficient holdings or none at all. The party both in its documents

and in its electoral campaigns frequently mentioned that it would give priority to the

development of the region. 342 Accordingly, the party in its later publications put great

emphasis on the economic underdevelopment of the region.

This is remarkable for various reasons. First, as will be seen below, the party

underlined the ethnic characteristic of the region, mainly the language, during its

electoral campaigns. Furthermore, thanks to the TLPs overemphasis upon

independence, dependence and other such leftist jargon, as well as its stress on the

economic backwardness of the region, many Kurdish groups starting from the late

1960s reinvented the theory of developmentalism and interpreted it as theory of

dependency. They would argue that it is not because the region was neglected that

there was an Eastern Question, rather it was because Kurds were being exploited due

to their ethnic identity. Moreover, if Turkey was not independent, then the Kurdish

regions were not, since they were exploited by Turkey. As Aslan argues, this theory

of dependency attracted the younger Kurdish socialists. 343

341
kincisi Dou ve Gneydou illeri bir mahrumiyet blgesi olmaktan kurtarlmaldr.
imdiye kadar ihmal edildiklerini de gz nnde bulundurarak okulun, fabrikann,
hastanenin, ktphanenin, tiyatronun, yolun en ou bu illerde almaldr. Memurun en
iyisi, en insancl ve yurtseveri bu illere gnderilmelidir. Ta ki, bu vatandalarmz
anayurdun z evlatlar olduklarn kalplerinde duysunlar ve i ve d dmanlarn
kkrtmasna kaplmasnlar. Bu meselenin baka bir zm yolu yoktur. Mehmet Ali
Aybar, Bamszlk, Demokrasi, Sosyalizm; Semeler pp.281-282.
342
Mehmet Ali Aybar, 25 Eyll 1965 TP 10 Ekim 1965 Radyo Konumalar, Yaasn
Emekiler, Yaasn Trkiye (Ankara: Sosyal Adalet Yaynlar, 1966), p.14.
343
Mehmet Ali Aslan, Sabancya Mektup; Krt Sorunu, PKK Realitesi, Sosyalizmin
Gelecei (Ankara: St Ofset, 1996), p.165.

118
TLP conceded that the Eastern Question had some ethnic aspect to it.

However, the issue was primarily one of, poverty and underdevelopment. The TLP

never clearly formulated the ethnic aspect of the Eastern Question. The party

promised that those who were treated as second class citizens, namely, workers,

those whose mother tongue was Kurdish and those who belonged to the Alevi sect

would be treated as first class citizens. 344 The Partys program stated that:

The party will treat these compatriots as full citizensmake sure they enjoy
the rights and freedoms acknowledged in the Constitution. It is written in the
12th Article of the Constitution that all citizens are equal before the law
irrespective of religion, language, race, group or class; this order of our
Constitution will be implemented word for word.

However, it went on to note:

The Turkish Labor Party, as is manifested in the 3rd Article of the


Constitution, enounces the indivisibility of the Turkish state as a whole
comprising its territory and people and definitely disallows any kind of
separatism and regionalism. 345

It is striking that the 3rd article also includes the provision; Its [Turkeys]

official language is Turkish, a point the party programme does not mention.

According to Aybar, the Eastern Question would be solved alongside the other issues
346
that affected the country. Interestingly, as will be discussed below, the Partys

election manifesto for the 1965 election declared that our nationalism disapproves

the idea of fascist nationalism, which is contemptuous and aggressive, and takes the

344
Mehmet Ali Aybar, Bamszlk, Demokrasi, Sosyalizm; Semeler,, p.632.
345
bu yurttalarmza tam bir yurtta muamelesi yapacaktr. Anayasada tannan hak ve
hrriyetlerden bu yurttalarmzn da yararlanmalar salanacaktr. Anayasamzn
12.maddesinde yurttalar arasnda din, dil, rk, snf ve zmre ayrm gzetilmeyecei
yazldr; Anayasamzn bu emri harfi harfine yerine getirilecektir. Trkiye i Partisi
Anayasann 3. maddesinde belirtildii gibi Trkiyenin lkesi ve milleti ile blnmez bir
btn olduunu ifade eder ve her trl blcl ve blgecilii kesinlikle reddeder. Her
eyden evvel, Toprak Reformunun uygulanmas, adaletli gelir dalm, sosyal ve iktisadi
nedenlerden dolay elzemdir. TP, Trkiye i Partisi Program, pp.110-111.
346
Mehmet Ali Aybar, Bamszlk, Demokrasi, Sosyalizm; Semeler, p.594.

119
lead of policy of expansionism of imperialism. 347 According to the Partys manual,

the primary reason for the disdaining of our eastern citizens, was because they were

poor. There are such aghas and beys who speak Kurdish and are accredited and

respected well enough. 348 Accordingly, Boran after one of her tours from the region

declared,

Aghas, Sheiks and other local men of weight as well, support the idea that the
Eastern and Southeastern regions are backward and poor because of ethnic
distinction, the intentional negligence and different treatment on account of
that reason. During my last journey, I noticed that this idea is deliberately
disseminated349

Moreover, during one of the party meeting in Diyarbakir in 1964, Boran stated

that:

The working class is deliberately to be divided against itself by the kindling of


race issues. In Turkey, distinctions such as Kurdish, Circassian, Abaza, Alevi,
and Sunni are instigated by the self-seeking classes. Administrators
discriminate between regions. Diyarbakir is only one of them; the
wretchedness of the East is not Kurdish versus Turkish. Those who say this
are liars. 350

Of course, there are plenty such examples. However, now it is necessary to

move to a discussion about how this issue was referred to by the Kurdish socialists.

As examined in the first chapter, an ethnoregional movement is twofold, the

economic underdevelopment and ethnicity. The affiliation between a regions new

347
Trkiye i Partisi, Seim Bildirisi, (stanbul: Yenilik basmevi, 1965), p.18.
348
Trkiye i Partisi Genel Merkezi, TP.linin El Kitab, p.33.
349
Aalar, eyhler, br mahalli nfuzlular da Dou ve Gneydou blgelerinin daha geri
ve yoksul kalmasn etnik farka ve bu fark dolaysyla ihmal ediliine, farkl muamele
grmesine atfeden gr desteklemektedir. Son gezimde yle bir iddiann yaylmak
istendiini sezdim. Behice Boran, Trkiye ve Sosyalizm Sorunlar, p.191.
350
btn dnyada ii snfnn, rk sorunu ortaya karlarak blnmesi zerine konutu:
Trkiyede Krt, erkez, Abaza, Alevi, Snni gibi ayrmlarn, karc evrelerce
krklendiiniYneticiler blge blge ayrmm yapyorlar. Diyarbakr bunlardan yalnz
birisi, dounun sefaleti Krtlk-Trklk deildir. Bunu syleyenler yalancdrlar Sosyal
Adalet, Aralik 1964, p.45. quoted in Ahmad and Ahmad, p.281.

120
elites and socialist movement after a while, as the first chapter pointed out, tend to be

ethnosocialist. While the socialists emphasize the economic situation, which is the

source of other problems as well, the ethnic elites also include the issue of their

ethnicity, which they argue causes the region to stand out from the rest of the country

and feeds economic backwardness.

In this regard, the socialist part of the ethnoregional movement, that is to say,

the TLPs leadership and militants as a whole, including the vanguard Kurdish

socialists, believed that socioeconomic restoration in accordance with the socialist

economic approach would solve all other questions at once. Land reform, the

fulfillment of the constitution, and state-supported industrialization together were

regarded as remedies. This view also deeply influenced those who considered

ethnicity as a part of the problem. For instance, Mehmet Emin Bozarslans early book

strikes a similar tone. 351

Furthermore, Tark Ziya Ekinci, as a deputy from Diyarbakir, argued in the

assembly that implementations of land reform and a just income distribution for
352
social and economic reasons were indispensible. He also responded to ultra-

nationalist articles which called for ethnic cleansing and the expulsion of the

population,353 by arguing that showing the economic deprivation of the region

justifiable, because of its populations ethnic characteristics was treacherous. 354

However, it must be underlined that the party used a dual language in terms of

Kurdish ethnicity and its suppression. Furthermore, as mentioned above, there was

351
Mehmed Emin Bozarslan, Dounun Sorunlar (Diyarbakr: afak Kitabevi, 1966), p.145.
352
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Dou Dram Trkiye i Partisi Mecliste:5 (Ankara: Ankara Basm
ve Ciltevi, 1967), pp.15-16.
353
Among them were tken and Milli Yol, which I already mentioned in the previous
chapter.
354
Ekinci, Dou Dram, p.25.

121
more than one group within the party. Especially during election campaigns, the party

militants would employ Kurdish ethnicity. As a matter of fact, the second group of

Kurds had already started discussions about Kurdish ethnicity and language. In 1963,

when 23 Kurdish writers and publishers, three of whom were members of the TLP,

were arrested, Niyazi Arnasl, senator of the TLP, refuted the claims made by the

Minister of the Interior. He asserted that the party was not behind either their

individual crimes nor did it support any such activities against the indivisibility and

unity of the state and the nation. 355

Apparently, the party endeavored to keep away from ethnic discourse-leaning

accusations. For example, after the publication of Yeni Ak, in 1966, Boran and her

colleagues accused the publisher, Mehmet Ali Aslan, of supporting bourgeois


356
nationalism, which conflicted with the party program and Marxist ideology.

Moreover, despite the resolution accepted in the Fourth General Congress of the Party

in 1970, the party would refuse to support Kurdish nationalism since it was against

any kind of nationalism owing to the fact they were against the constitution. 357

Horowits argues that ethnicity offers political leaders the promise of secure
358
support. Owing to the fact that playing the ethnic card explicitly was out of

question due to legal restrictions in the 1960s, the party and its militants preferred to

use a rather vague language. Therefore, since they could not apply to the ethnic card

explicitly they avoided any connections with the ethnicized parties in public. In this

sense, although they applied to the ethnic card implicitly, and indeed some groups

355
Turhan Salman, TP (Trkiye i Partisi) Parlamentoda 19631966 (stanbul: Tstav,
2004), p.32.
356
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Krtlerde Sosyal Deiim Sreleri ve TPin Katks, 19 Eyll 2008
(Unpublished Paper). Aslan also confirmed this.
357
Turkish Republic, Resmi Gazete, 6 Ocak 1972, Karar Sayisi;1971/3 pp.316.
358
Horowitz, p.295.

122
within the party, such as the TKDP, mullahs and, to some extent, students focused on

the ethnic aspect of the issue, the party militants generally used the existing ties to

attain as many as votes as they could. The last section of this chapter is devoted to the

responses of the Kurdish groups to above-mentioned TLP policy on the Kurdish

issue. We first look at the election results in the region to reach a general conclusion

on the Eastern Question and the TLP.

The Elections, the Turkish Labor Party and the Region

Between two military interventions, 19601971, constituents voted eight

times in Turkey, three times in national elections (1961, 1965 and 1969), twice for

local elections (1963 and 1968), and three times for renewal elections for the Senate

(1961 with the general elections, 1964, 1966 and 1968). Interestingly, the

participation rates consistently declined from 81.4 percent in 1961 to 64.3 percent in

1969. The decrease occurred for a number of reasons, such as the military

intervention and the radicalization of youth in the late 1960s. As Table 2 reveals,

while no single party won the majority of the seats in the assembly in 1961, the

Justice Party (JP) successor of the DP, was the winner in 1965 and 1969 general

elections. At the national level, the TLP received 0.39 percent and 2.72 percent in

1963 and 1968 local elections, 2.97 percent and 2.68 percent in 1965 and 1969

general elections, while it obtained 3.9 percent and 4.7 percent in renewal elections

for the Senate. In contrast to the 1965 elections, from which the party obtained 7.9

percent of the votes in Istanbul, 4.3 percent in Ankara and 3.9 percent in Izmir and

sent four representatives from these three large cities, in 1969 general elections, it

123
garnered only 5.7 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively in these cities. In

fact, the only seats that the TLP managed to win in 1969 were from Istanbul. 359

Table 3 Result of the General Election of Representatives between 1961-1969


1961 1965 1969
Population 28 227 000 31 14900 31 443 000
Number of registered voters 12 925 395 13 679 753 14 788 552
Number of actual voters 10 522 716 9 748 678 9 516 035
Participation rate (%) 81.4 71.3 64.3
Number of valid votes 10 138 035 9 307 563 9 086 296
A
Votes (%) Seats Votes (%) Seats Votes (%) Seats
Justice Party (JP) 34.79 158 52.87 240 46.55 256
Nation Party (NP) - 6.27 31 3.22 6
Nationalist Action Party - - 3.02 1
(NAP)
New Turkey Party (NTP) 13.72 65 3.72 19 2.17 6
Republican Peoples Party 36.74 173 28.74 134 27.37 143
(RPP)
Republican Peasants 13.96 54 2.24 11 -
Nationalists Party (RPNP)
Republican Reliance Party - - 6.57 15
(RRP)
Turkish Labor Party (TLP) - 2.97 14 2.68 2
Turkish Union Party (TUP) - - 2.80 8
Independents 0.80 - 3.18 1 5.62 13
Source: T.C. Babakanlk Trkiye statistik Kurumu, statistik Gstergeler;
1923-2005, Publication Number: 3047, Ankara, 2006, p.136-140.

As Table 3 reveals, the change of the electoral system in the 1969 election,

from proportional representation, which allowed small parties to gain greater

representation in a first past the post system, led to a great discrepancy among party

votes and seats in the assembly. The TLP got its 12 deputies thanks to the electoral

system in 1965. While the Turkish Union Party, which had been founded by leading

Alevis and drew its support mainly from the Alevi community, 360 was able send 8

359
See Appendix A.
360
Mehmet Ertans M.A. Thesis is a thorough study of the TUP and gives us some insights
into the party. See Mehmet Ertan, The Circuitous Politicization of Alevism: The Affiliation
between the Alevis and the Left Politics (19601980). M.A. Thesis, The Ataturk Institute for
Modern Turkish History, Boazii University, 2008.

124
representatives with 2.80 percent of the vote. However, in 1969 The NTP won six

seats even though it polled less than the TLP. It should be noted that four out of six

deputies of the NTP were elected from the East and Southeast regions due to the fact

that the new system favored partys which had strong local concentrations of support.

The electoral system favored the two big political parties, the JP and the RPP.

Although both parties obtained less than they had in 1965, they increased their seats.

The JP, the ruling party, got the most votes and seats in 1969 as it had earlier in the

decade.

In the case of the East and Southeast region, the JP made rapid progress and it

became the largest party in the region. As the following diagram demonstrates, in the

early 1960s the JP had been unable to organize properly in the East and won 11.7

percent (1961) of the vote. This early weakness mainly had been because of the

presence of the NTP, which had strong support in the region. However, in the later

elections, the JP faired better. It obtained 30.9 percent (1965) and 30.3 percent (1969)

of the total amount of votes in fifteen provinces in the region.

50,0%
45,0%
40,0%
35,0% JP
30,0% RPP
Votes

25,0% NTP
20,0% INDEPENDENTS
15,0% OTHERS
10,0%
5,0%
0,0%
1961 1965 1969
The General Elections

Figure 5 Parties' votes in the fifteen provinces in the East and Southeast.

125
At the same time, the percentage of votes for the NTP went down from 34.9

percent (1961) to 18 percent (1965) and to 10.9 percent (1969). The same decline can

be observed in the RPPs case; while it was the first party in the region in 1961 (40.4

percent), the RPP obtained only 31.4 percent in 1965 and this was reduced to 24

percent in 1969. Other parties, comprising of the Republican Peasants Nationalist

Party (RPNP) which became Nationalist Action Party in 1969 (NAP), the Nation

Party (NP), the Republican Reliance Party (RRP), Turkish Labor Party (TLP) and

Turkish Unity Party (TUP), however, saw an increase in the vote in Kurdish Anatolia.

These groups gained 13.3 percent in 1961, 7.7 percent in 1965 and 18.2 percent in

1969, while independent candidates increased their votes from 0.3 percent in 1961 to

7.7 percent in 1965 and 18.2 percent in 1969.361

First of all, the dramatic decline of the two political parties, the JP and the

RPP, is worth mentioning here. While the two major political parties, the JP and the

RPP together obtained a 75.7 percent average in the three elections at the national

level, the two managed to get only 28.1 percent of the Southeastern regions votes,

which was almost three times less than the national average.362 The NTP faced a

decline at the national level due to its failure to win over the JPs voters or former DP

supporters. While it got 14 percent in 1961, it obtained only 3.7 percent and 2.2

percent in the 1969 general elections. Likewise, at the national level, the RPP also fell

from 36.7 percent (1961) to 28.7 percent (1965) and to 27.4 percent (1969). In

addition, the RRP of Turhan Feyzioglu, which broke off the RPP, played a great role

in the RPPs decline in the region. The RRP managed to split the RPP vote in 1969 by

obtaining 36.9 percent in Hakkari, 31.1 percent in Ar and 23.6 percent in Van.

361
For more details, see Appendix B.
362
Calculated from three general elections results. See Table 3 and appendix B.

126
Finally, the decline of the two biggest parties in 1961 was based on the increase of

independent candidates and the other political parties, too.

When looking on the previous page, the first question that comes to mind is

how these deviations could have happened. First of all, as Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, a

Kurdish mullah from Diyarbakr who was affiliated with the TLP, points out, the
363
Easterners vote for his Agha or Sheik or his acquaintance. On the other hand,

almost 75 percent of the population was made up peasants and the illiterate.

Furthermore, as Lale Yaln-Heckmann underlines, the tribal way of life and its

impact on political life were primary reasons for the fluctuation of votes in the region.
364
This is because, the political power in the region was in the hands of an elite group

of aghas, sheiks, and some intellectuals and their relatives. Therefore, tribal

membership and religious authority could be political assets for garnering support.

When the notables shifted their alignment, they brought with them a ready-made

voting bloc.

Despite some very small changes by the 1960s, this pattern and structure of

the Kurdish political landscape remained more or less the same until late 1970s. In

terms of figures, the TLPs participation in the elections did not change this situation

either. Even the TLP itself used these traditional channels in the elections on many

occasions. If one looks at the fluctuation of TLP votes, it appears to be more or less

the same as the other political parties. In other words, the candidates themselves were

the most decisive factors behind either the success or failure of the party in the region.

363
Mehmed Emin Bozarslan, Dounun Sorunlar, p.141.
364
Lale Yaln-Heckmann, On Kinship, Tribalism and Ethnicity in Eastern Turkey,in
Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, comp. and ed. Peter Alford Andrews (Wiesbaden:
Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1989), p.626.

127
Table 4 The Turkish Labor Partys Votes in the Fifteen Provinces
1965 General Election 1968 Local Elections 1969 General Election
Province Votes % Seats Votes % Votes % Seats
Agri 3466 4.90 0 894 1.1 1290 1.65 0
Bingol 830 2.12 0 1668 3.5 778 1.58 0
Bitlis --- --- -- --- --- 346 0.78 0
Diyarbakir 8867 8.00 1 3037 2.3 3330 2.75 0
Elazig 2062 2.63 0 2505 3.0 1410 1.75 0
Erzincan --- --- --- --- --- 958 1.39 0
Hakkri --- --- --- 1320 4.7 154 0.55 0
Kars 9333 5.97 1 12932 4.9 13003 8.26 0
Malatya 4707 3.71 1 12409 10.1 6952 5.24 0
Mardin 1965 1.66 0 --- --- 317 0.23 0
Mus 2062 3.72 0 614 1.0 2282 3.69 0
Siirt 1190 1.96 0 1140 1.4 911 1.20 0
Tunceli 2387 5.84 0 2369 5.2 7187 16.80 0
Urfa 3771 3.17 1 6018 5.2 2578 2.00 0
Van 1869 2.62 0 2732 3.3 952 1.17 0
TOTAL 42509 3.09 4 47638 3.04 42448 3.26 0
Source: T.C. Babakanlk Devlet Istatistik Enstits, 1950-1965 Milletvekili ve 1961,
1964 Cumhuriyet Senatosu ye Seimleri Sonular, Yayn No: 513 Ankara, 1966,
pp. XXII-XXXVII; T.C. Babakanlk Devlet Istatistik Enstits, 17 Kasim 1963
Mahalli Seimler Sonular, Yayn no: 474, Ankara, 1963; ---2 Haziran 1968
Mahalli Secimler Sonuclari, Yayn no: 555, Ankara, 1969.

Because the TLP could not participate in the 1961 general elections, contested

only in Diyarbakr in 1963 local elections, and got 1.5 percent, this analysis is mainly

based on three elections, the 1965 and 1969 general elections and the local elections

in 1968. Party branches, as pointed out above, were opened in almost all provinces

except for Bitlis, Erzincan and Hakkari due primarily to local notables

disapproval.365 However, except for some branches such as in Diyarbakr, Tunceli,

Ar, Kars, Malatya, Mu and Urfa, party organizations to some extent were symbolic

and hollow. Therefore, the attention was directed at the above-mentioned cities. In the

1965 elections, the TLP ran candidates from the region such Tark Ziya Ekinci in
365
The strongest objection to organization of the party usually came from the local groups
mentioned above. For instance, in Erzincan where the majority of population was Alevi,
Kemal Burkay was told to not to divide Alevi constituency by opening the party branch
there. See, Burkay, Anlar, Belgeler, I.Cilt, p.236.

128
Diyarbakr, Mehmet Ali Aslan in Ar, Kemal Burkay in Bingl (Burkay had in fact

never been to Bingl), Behice Boran in Urfa, aban Erik in Malatya, Adil Kurtel in

Kars. Among fifteen deputies, four were elected to the Parliament from the region:

Tark Ziya Ekinci, Adil Kurtel, aban Erik and Behice Boran.366

As Ekinci mentions in his book on the TLP, prior to the 1965 elections, each

group within the party wanted to dominate by choosing and directing the delegates

and candidates for the parliament. This is evidenced by the efforts of the pro-TKDP

group to assume control of the Diyarbakir TLP branch. 367 Musa Anter was asked to

run for the Mardin TLP candidacy against Canip Yldrm, another prominent Kurd in

Diyarbakr. Anter refused to do so and ran as an independent.368 Due to this

dissension among parties, the TLP was unable win in Mardin and got only 1190 votes

(1.9 percent), while Anter himself obtained 10,000 votes, the highest amount in the

fifteen provinces. However, Anter was not able to win a seat. On the other hand, Faik

Bucak, although he had been rejected by the JP, ran for the Urfa seat as an

independent. He, too, got a quite large number of votes, about 15, 000. However, he

too was unable to enter parliament. 369

All these candidates were more or less of the same class base. All were

educated, with strong tribal and family ties, middle-class or upper class individuals.

On the other hand, despite the fact that the party put forward 382 candidates for the

366
The rest were: Mehmet Ali Aybar (stanbul), Rza Kuas (Ankara), Muzaffer Karan
(Denizli),Sadun Aren (stanbul), Yahya Kanbolat (Hatay), Cemal Hakk Selek (Izmir),
Yunus Koak (Konya), Yusuf Ziya Bahadnl(Yozgat) Ali Karc (Adana), Kemal Nebiolu
(Tekirdag), etin Altan (stanbul), for detailed information see Turhan Salman, TP
(Trkiye i Partisi) Parlamentoda 19631966.
367
Tarik Ziya Ekinci, Sol Siyaset Sorunlar, p.302.
368
Musa Anter, Hatralarm 1-2. p.213.
369
mer An, Krtler, Kemalizm ve TKP (stanbul: VS Yaynlar, 2006) p.139.

129
Parliament, 216 of whom were proletarian, as Aren point out, three out of the 15
370
deputies were trade unionists and the rest belonged to the intelligentsia. Naci

Kutlay, in his memoirs, says that even in his province, Ar, those who supported the

TLP were generally middle class, although there was some interest from the aghas.

He goes on to tell that in Malazgirt, the head of party was Halis Agha and during the

campaigns, he, in a comical way, propagated for land reform by saying, vote for this

party, they will give the land of people like me to you. 371 The party candidate for

Tunceli, according to Burkay, was not even a socialist; he was a person who was well

aware of the opportunities of the national remainder system.372 In Kars, Adil Kurt,

who was elected deputy for the parliament, succeeded thanks to his connections and

influence.

In 1969, the TLP increased its poll only in three provinces; Kars, Malatya and

in Tunceli. However, these increases were related to specific local conditions.

Regarding the province of Kars, where the party in 1969 obtained 8.3 percent in

contrast to 5.9 percent in 1965, Adil Kurtel, who had been elected to the parliament in

1965, again was a key factor behind this increase. In addition, the pro-NDR group

also supported Adil Kurtel in Kars, while in other provinces they openly attacked the

party. 373

In Tunceli, the Party gained 16.8 percent of the votes in 1969, in contrast to

5.8 percent in 1965, due to Kemal Burkays personal success and efforts. He had

worked there as a lawyer and had taken a leading part in the Eastern meetings in

370
Sadun Aren, TP Olay, 19611971, p.105.
371
Naci Kutlay, Anlarm (Istanbul: Avesta, 1998), p.117.
372
Kemal Burkay, Anilar, Belgeler, pp.164-167.
373
Turhan Feyizolu, Mahir; Onlarn yks (stanbul: Ozan Yaynclk, 11th edition,
2007), p.179.

130
1967. Finally, regarding Malatya, despite the fact that the pro-NDR group supported

another candidate, whom they dubbed the independent proletarian candidate, the

TLP candidate, Sabri Tanrverdi, a big landowner and an Alevi dede (religious

leader), who saved the partys fortunes.374 Despite the pro-NDR clique, the partys

votes jumped from 3.7 percent to 5.2 percent.

According to a study done in the wake of elections, the TLPs votes in the

villages where a village voted entirely for one political party was related to the

candidates individual influence. While the TLP could get almost no votes from the

majority of villages in the country, in Malatya or in Diyarbakr it received almost all

votes in some villages. 375 Furthermore, 23 of 24 villages, which voted entirely for the

TLP, were in the east with the single exception being a village in central Anatolia. 376

In Adyaman, as I mentioned, owing to the person who was candidate in 1969, eight

villages as a whole voted for the TLP.

Among those provinces in which the party fared less well than it had in 1965,

Diyarbakr is worth commenting on. Whereas the proportion of the TLPs vote was 8

percent in 1965, it fell to 2.7 percent in 1969, which was more than half. Paramount

among those factors was Tark Ziya Ekincis nomination to Ankara. This move was

related to the fact Ankara seemed to be a safer seat. Although Ekinci and his family

or tribe had supported the party in 1965, it seems that due to Ekincis candidacy in

Ankara, the actions of the pro-TKDP group, and the conflict between Ekinci and

Canip Yldrm all contributed to this decline.

374
Cumhuriyet, 12 September, 1969, quoted in Ahmad and Ahmad, p.374.
375
Arslan Baer Kafaolu, TPin Ky Oylar Yn, Say 196, 30 Aralk 1966.
376
Cenap Nuhrat, Turkiye Koylerinde Olagandisi Oy Verme, Siyasal Bilgiler Fakultesi
Dergisi, (Volume: XXVI, March 1971 No: 1, Ankara Universitesi, Ankara), pp.219-244.

131
Since this decline happened after the historical events of the Eastern Meetings,

which are seen as a major landmark in the development of Kurdish mobilization it

leads us to look at the role of individuals. It is very important for our theoretical

approach, which argues that ethnoregional movement and ethnosocialist rhetoric is

primarily based on individuals, most of whom participate in politics to attain as much

as power they can. It also confirms the case of province of Ar where the party

received 1.65 percent of the votes in contrast to 4.90 percent in 1965. Regarding the

latter, Mehmet Ali Aslan was put forward for Izmirs primary candidacy, while the

Emek group, that is, Sadun Aren and Behice Boran, shared positions further down on

party lists. 377

The party militants who formed the partys branches virtually overnight were

also negotiators between the party center and the constituency as well. Politics even

in the TLPs case was a negotiation with influential local notables and intellectuals.

What is evident is that the TLPs militants were not as powerful or capable as their

opponents in mobilizing the electorate. Henceforth, these new counter-elite tried new

channels through which they aimed to politicize and mobilize the regions population

so that the old allegiances could be replaced by new sets of ideas and commitments.

Nevertheless, they initially used the existing channels, specifically, tribal affiliations

and the cult of personality.

It was in the local elections of 1963 when the party participated in some areas

and made its propaganda over the radio. Although those radio speeches caught the

attention of quite a lot of people due to their unprecedented language, the party was

unable to translate this interest into electoral success. The TLP was further damaged

by rumors fueled by the JP, which alleged that the TLP supporters were communists,

377
eref Yldz, Frtnada Yry (stanbul: Sar Defter9, 2008), p. 68.

132
supporters of Soviet Russia and that if they were elected would launch a merciless

assault on Islam. The anti-TLP propaganda sometimes erupted in acts of civil

disorder, such as sudden attacks on the TLP and its organizations or physical attacks

on members of the party.378

In addition, during the 1965 election campaign, the JPs accusation was that

the TLP had been sought to bring communism to the country and followed Stalins
379
policies. As virtually all the partys militants in the East say, while forming the

party branches, they were asked for money and many landlords and other local

notables refused to have contacts with them due to these accusations.

At the same time, the TLP policy mainly was conditioned by the need to

prevent the party from being closed down and to expand its message as far as possible

in order not only to the refute accusations against it, but as to convince the

constituency to follow its path.

Soon after Niyazi Arnasl joined the party in 1963, the party started to

appeal in the Constitutional Court not only to make the constitution workable, but

also to help amend the laws which they felt were out of step with the constitution.

Between 1963 and 1971 when the party dissolved, the party had made 41 appeals to

the court, 20 of which were successful and had led to the cancelation of various

laws.380

The TLP published almost all of its activities, such as radio speeches and the

assembly records under the title of Turkish Labor Party is in the Assembly and was

378
Mehmet Ali Aybar, TP Tarihi;1, pp.223-224.
379
Nermin Abadan, Anayasa Hukuku ve Siyasi Bilimler Asndan 1965 Seimlerinin Tahlili
(Ankara: Sevin Matbaas, 1966), p.135.
380
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Trkiye i Partisinin Anayasa Mahkemesinde At Davalar, in
Gndz Vassaf, Mehmet Ali Aybar Sempozyumlar, 19972002; zgrleme Sorunlar,
(stanbul: Tarih Vakf Yaynlar, 2003), pp.209231.

133
quite successful in distributing its ideas through publications. In addition, most of the

prominent figures in the party wrote periodically in Yn, Sosyal Adalet, Emek and

other leftist journals. In a booklet entitled TLPs radio speeches for October 1965

Elections, the policies as well as the lively discourse can be seen. Aybar said,

Workers, poor peasants, artisans.Ataturkist Youth, officerscitizens, Turkey

cannot develop with a capitalist meaning.381 In Ankara, more than three thousand

people gathered to listen382 to Sadun Aren, etin Altan, Yaar Kemal and Antepli

Hamdo, a local storyteller.

It is easily discernible that both groups in the party preferred to use their own

vocabulary. Aybar appealed to his audience, which included Ataturkist Youth and

officers: however, Tark Ziya Ekinci, as spokesman of the Easterners struck a

different tone. He stated, with the arrival of your sole party, the Turkish Labor

Party, this is to say your power, because the bondage of one man to another will

wither away, the gap between race, religion, sect and language, and the situations
383
created by this gap will be terminated. Tark Ziya Ekinci, as the only

representative of Doulu group in the Assembly between 1965 and 1969, brought to

attention both economic and social and cultural problems of the region several times.

For instance, in one of his speech to the assembly during the second Five-year

Development Plan, he focused on the underdevelopment of the East arguing that the

plan did not include the particular needs of the region comprehensively. He further

381
Mehmet Ali Aybar, 25 Eyll 1965 in TP 10 Ekim 1965 Radyo Konumalar, p.8.
382
TP, Ankarada demokratik hayatn en byk kapal salon toplantsn yapt:Yn, no.
131, (1 November 1965).
383
Senin biricik siyasi partin olan Trkiye i Partisinin yani senin iktidara gelmenle
her trl smrme, kula kulluk son bulacandan rk, din, mezhep ve dil ayrlklaryla
bunlarn sebep olduu elim vaziyetler son bulacaktr. Tark Ziya Ekinci, TP 10 Ekim 1965
Radyo Konumalar, pp.55-60.

134
quoted from tken and Milli Yol, journals that had used pejorative language against

the Kurds and argued that according to the constitution it was illegal to write such

articles. He further explained that private investments would not solve the economic

backwardness of the region.384

From Eastern Meetings to the DDKO (Revolutionary Eastern Cultural


Hearths), or the End of the TLP

Starting from the late 1950s, as the previous sections explain, Kurdish

ethnicity under the guise of Doulu or Krt (Kurdist) either through the arrest of

Kurdish intellectuals or publication of some Kurdish journals, timidly started to

appear in the public domain. In addition, the presence of a growing number of

Kurdish students in Turkeys two greatest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, the relatively

free political atmosphere, migrations, the expansion of the market, and the increasing

number of actors in politics were some other factors which contributed to this

reappearance of Kurdish ethnicity after almost three decades of suppression.

As already mentioned, the interaction between the leftists and the Kurdish

elites did not lead to a parallel interaction between the state authorities or the

nationalist and rightist segment of society and the Kurds. Therefore, when the

Kurdish ethnicity was seen in the public sphere, there were some fixed labels, such as

Kurdist. However, these so-called Kurdists were extremely shy about ethnicizing

their demands. They framed most of their discourse in terms of constitutionalism. As

Mehdi Zana, one of the initiator of those meetings, points out, this same approach

demonstrated itself in the Eastern Meetings. These meetings, while encouraging the

population as a whole to raise its voice against the economic situation of the region,

384
Tark Ziya Ekinci, Dou Dram, pp.25-26.

135
also stimulated the young generation of Kurdish intellectuals, and university students

ethnic demands, which focused on language and culture.385

These meetings resulted in outbreaks of popular protest. In 1967, seven big

demonstrations were held in Silvan (a district of Diyarbakir), Diyarbakir, Siverek (a

district of Urfa), Batman (used to be a district of Siirt), Tunceli and Ar,

respectively. Also, in 1969, in Lice (Diyarbakir), Siverek (the district of Urfa), Varto

(the district of Mus) and in Hilvan (Urfa), Suruc (Urfa) five similar demonstrations

were held. 386 In addition to those meetings, in Ankara and Istanbul, equally important

were Dou Gecesi (Eastern Night) in which hemeris gathered around and listened,

and sang local songs and shared ideas. 387

The Eastern meetings, as many of their participants argue, started as a reaction

to articles of the ultra-nationalist tken and Milli Yol periodicals. In addition, the

TLP, other political organizations such as the TKDP were active during those

historical events. However, these events were arranged mainly by the first group of

TLP militants, such as Mehdi Zana, Naci Kutlay, Kemal Burkay and Mehmet Ali

Aslan. 388 However, Mehmet Ali Aybar in Diyarbakir, Behice Boran in Batman and

Tarik Ziya Ekinci in Ar and Diyarbakr also took part in the meetings. At the same

385
Mehdi Zana, interview by Delal Aydn, Ankara, Turkey, February 2005.
386
Devrimci Dou Kltr Ocaklar, Dava Dosyas 1 (Ankara: Komal, 1975), pp.30-33.
387
Ibid.,
388
smail Beikis early study, which was published in the same year, is the first handbook
of these meetings. smail Beiki, Dou Mitinglerinin Analizi, (Ankara: Yurt-Kitap Yayin,
1992); and Azad Zana Gndoan ibid.; alsoYaar Karadoan, Krd Demokratik
Mcadelesinde Bir Kilometre Ta: 1967-1969 Dou Mitingleri ve Krd Uyan, BR:
Aratrma ve nceleme Dergisi: DDKO-I, no. 5, (2006), pp.254-283.

136
time, the TKDP was also influential. In Silvan, for example, Sait Eli of the TKDP

and Tark Ziya Ekinci gave speeches at the same time. 389

Though these outbursts of popular activism were to some extent spontaneous

reactions to specific events, the militants of the TLP and the TKDP were the two

groups that provided the organizational basis for the public outcry. The majority of

demands and speeches were based on the economic backwardness of the region.

People were told to raise their voices against inequalities and underdevelopment of

their region. On some occasions, such as in Silvan, people were agitated by a Kurdish

poem, according to Mehmet Ali Aslan, who had recited it. It was for the first time in

the Turkish republics history that a Kurdish poem had been recited in the public.
390
In Batman, the speaker Nevzat Nas, a student, recited Kurdish poems from

Ahmed Xani, Cigerxwin, and Kemal Badilli.391

Despite its official disapproval, these meetings much of the time were a

platform for TLP propaganda. In addition to those meetings, the TLP also embarked

on a 10-day Eastern Tour to almost all provinces where Aybar, Boran, Kurtel and

Ekinci as the party deputies gave speeches and told people about the Eastern question,

which they argued was an outcome of unemployment, destitutionall of which


392
derived from the coalition of Aghas and comprador bourgeoisie. For the first

389
mer An, Krtler, Kemalizm ve TKP, (stanbul: VS Yaynlar, 2006), p.141.
390
Mehmet Ali Aslan, interview by the author, tape recording, Istanbul, Turkey, 31 January
2009
391
Abdullah Kaya, Hvriz Aac, (stanbul: letiim, 2002), p.138.
392
Doudaki vatandalarn sosyal ve kltrel haklarnn tannmadn, halkn ekonomik
gerilik, eitimsizlik, isizlik, yokluk, yoksulluk, toprakszlk ve sefalet iinde kendi kaderiyle
ba baa brakldn, bunlarn nedeni olarak da toprak aalaryla ittifak iindeki sermaye
dzeni olduunu anlatyorlard. Tark Ziya Ekinci, Krtlerde Sosyal Deiim Sreleri ve
TPin Katks.

137
time, these meetings demonstrated the divergence of point of views very clearly. 393

The struggle between the TLP and the TKDP to achieve dominance over the

subsequent mobilization of the population became a salient bone of contention.

One important feature of the meetings was the participation of many Kurdish

students, some of whom already had worked for the TLPs in 1965 general election

campaign. This younger generation of future members of the Kurdish elites and

intelligentsia, as with the TKDP, did not agree that the Eastern Question was just

about economic backwardness and social injustice. They forcefully put forward the

ethnic characteristic of the region and related it to backwardness and

underdevelopment. In other words, for them, the economic underdevelopment in the

Kurdish regions of Turkey was not economic happenstance. On the contrary, it was

due to social and cultural factors associated with the Kurdishness of those regions.

The next important development was the 1969 foundation of the DDKOs

(Revolutionary Eastern Cultural Hearths) in Ankara and Istanbul in 1969. Between

1970 and 1971, first in Diyarbakir and then in Silvan, Ergani, Kozluk and Batman the

DDKOs were founded by TLP militants such as Tahsin Ekinci, Naci Kutlay, Tark

Ziya Ekinci, Abdurrahman Uar, and Mehdi Zana.394 Other activists included

Mmtaz Kotan, Orhan Kotan, brahim Gl, Nezir emmikanl, hsan Aksoy, Fikret

ahin, Sabri epik, Sra Bilgin, Ali Beykyl, hsan Yavuztrk, Ferit Uzun, Faruk

Aras, sa Geit, Hikmet Bozal and mit Frat.395 Like the coalition in the TLP, the

393
Soon after one of articles disdaining Kurds and Kurdish culture, in September 1967, 19
students associations, and clubs signed a notice, condemning the articles and their writers.
see, Nezir emmikanl, Gemi Olmadan Gelecek Olmaz!, BR: Aratrma ve nceleme
Dergisi: DDKO-I, (5), 2006: 7197.
394
Interview withTarik Ziya Ekinci, in Diken. p.61.
395
smail Beiki, Hapisteki DDKO (Devrimci Dou Kltr Ocaklar) BR: Aratrma ve
nceleme Dergisi: DDKO-I (5) (2006) 99156.

138
DDKOs also included various groups: Pro-Sait Krmztoprak (also known by his
396
sobriquet Dr. ivan,) group, Tde KDP, pro-Dev-Gen group and pro-TKDP. In

addition, activists who were not even members, such as Deniz Gezmi, a charismatic
397
and influential student leader, visited the DDKO several times in Ankara.

According to Yavuz, Abdullah calan, the leader of the PKK, took part in the

activities and established connections with other students when he was in Istanbul in

1970.398

First of all, it should be noted that the DDKOs, despite the fact that their

founders were mainly members of the TLP, were not subsidiaries or organs of the

party. Nor did they do only propaganda for the party. They developed during the

chaotic experienced by the Turkish socialist student movement and in an environment

where their Turkish counterparts virtually as a whole were longing for a revolution

lead by the intellectuals, students and the army. Kurdish university students founded

these organizations in order to gather around a bigger association rather than small

and scattered fellow townsmen associations.

At the same time, the attacks of the ultra-nationalist students and the chaotic

political atmosphere of the late 1960s, all together channeled Kurdish students toward

uncertainty in many respects. What was crucial for them was the legality. Unlike their

Turkish counterparts, they tried to remain within the legal framework of the

constitution.399 It can be argued that these organizations made much more

396
eref Yldz, Frtnada Yry, p.66.
397
Orhan Mirolu, Canip Yldrmla Sylei, p.219.
398
Yavuz, p.10.
399
Zerruk Vakifahmetolu, one of the members of the DDKO, when he argued with friends
at the Diyarbakir DDKO and expressed his thoughts for an armed-struggle, was accused of
being a Dev-Gencist, which referred to the radicalism of the Turkish Left in 1970. Soon
after he resigned, he and some of his friend went Diyarbakir to start a guerilla war; however,

139
contribution to the young Kurdish students worldview than anything. Its monthly

bulletin was circulated among thousands of students. In addition, seminars and talks

regarding the Kurdish issue and the economic situation of the region given by various

people such as smail Beiki, and Mehmet Emin Bozarslan were organized.

Moreover, in Diyarbakir and other provinces, the DDKOs functioned as an open

university in which many issues such as socialism and self-determination were

taught.400

The DDKOs were also founded at a time when the army was launching

Commando Operations against Kurdish villagers. smail Cem, a journalist at the time,

described these as having a long-term effect on the politics of the region. 401 Dozens of

villages and towns were searched simultaneously for illegal guns and bandits,

villagers were treated as sub-human and most importantly, they were scorned by the

officers for being Kurds. 402 The DDKOs militants paid great attention to this issue

and sent a telegram to the president. 403 Furthermore, the militants went to the region

to investigate the conditions and most of the time paid great attention to reminding

the population of their rights and warned them that these commando operations were

against the constitution.

the DDKO in Diyarbakir did not let them to even enter the building there since they were
told that they are for violence by which they would cause troubles. See interview with ,
Zerruk Vakifahmetoglu in Diken, p.204.
400
Naci Kutlay, Anlarm,p.180.
401
Milliyet, 12-19 July 1970, in Ismail Cem, Trkiye zerine Aratrmalar (stanbul: Cem
Yayinevi, 1970), p.29.
402
, Ibid., p.18.
403
D.D.K.O Aylk Haber Blteni9,in DDKO, Devrimci Dou Kltr Ocaklar Dava
Dosyas 1. pp.573- 581.

140
The DDKOs emphasis upon commando operations caught the attention of the

TLP, too. Both in the Parliament and in the Senate the party representatives

condemned the operations. Fatma men, the partys only senator (from Kocaeli),

claimed that these operations were more evidence of the effort directed towards

creating a fascist order. Suppression by the government is the heavy repression of our

citizens in the East and Southeast region under the banner of searching guns and

criminals. 404

However, the 1969 general elections as well as the radicalization of students

paved the way for the devastation of the party. Aybar resigned just after the elections,

while Mehmet Ali Aslan was elected party chairman. He remained about a month and

then he too resigned. The party by 1970 was de facto inactive. The pro-Aybar group,

including many Kurds, students and other groups, had left the party. The Fourth

Congress of the party was held amidst the chaotic situation in Ankara on 29-31

November 1970. The proposal of the DDKO, Halklar Tasars (proposal of

peoples) was passed in the congress. According to decision, the party accepted and

declared that:

There live a Kurdish people in the East of Turkey;


The Ruling classes and fascist governments have been implementing a policy
of terror and assimilation upon Kurdish people, which from time to time has
been in the guise of bloody persecution activities;
One of the fundamental reasons for the backwardness of the region where the
Kurdish people lives, in comparison with the other regions of Turkey, is in
addition to the capitalisms unequal law, an outcome of the social and political
policies executed by the ruling class governments, which take into account the
fact that the other region is inhabited by the Kurdish people;
For this reason, considering the Eastern Question as a question of regional
development is nothing but an extension of the chauvinist-nationalist views
and attitudes of the ruling class governments.

404
Hkmetin basks, bir faist dzen kurma abasnn dier bir delili, son sralarda Dou
ve Gney-Dou blgemizdeki silah ve sulu arama bahanesi ile oradaki vatandalarmza
yaplan ar baskdr in Fatma Hikmet men, Parlamentoda 9 Yl; TP Senatr Olarak
19661975 Dnemi Parlamento almalar, (Ankara: ark Matbaas, 1976), p.228.

141
It went on to state that the party would:

Support the struggle of the Kurdish people to enjoy its constitutional


citizenship rights and to realize that their all other democratic aspirations and
demands is an ordinary and necessary revolutionary duty
The party regards the Kurdish problem in accordance with the requirements of
working class socialist revolutionary struggle. 405

During the Congress the pro-Aybar Kurdish group, including Kemal Burkay

who gave a speech there, underlined the fact that the TLP was to be protected.406

They clearly were worried that the passing of such a resolution would lead to the

closure of the party. Tark Ziya Ekinci abstained from voting. Mehmet Ali Aslan tried

to persuade the rest of the Eastern delegates and the party not to pass the resolution.407

Moreover, Burkay maintains that he proposed a moderate proposal, which was turned

down by the other delegates whom were under the influence of Dr. ivan, the leader

of the Tde KDP and who in fact wanted to get the party closed down. 408 The party

405
Trkiyenin Dousunda Krt halknn yaamakta olduunu;
Krt halk zerinde, batan beri, hakim snflarn faist iktidarlarn, zaman zaman kanl
zulm hareketleri niteliine brnen, bask, terr ve asimilasyon politikasn
uyguladklarn;
Krt halknn yaad blgenin, Trkiyenin teki blgelerine oranla, geribraklm
olmasnn temel nedenlerinden birinin, kapitalizmin eitsiz gelime kanununa ek olarak, bu
blgede Krt halknn yaad gereini gz nne alan hakim snf iktidarlarnn,
gttkleri ekonomik ve sosyal politikann bir sonucu olduunu;
Bu nedenle, Dou sorununu bir blgesel kalknma sorunu olarak ele almann, hakim snf
iktidarlarnn oven-milliyeti grlerinin ve tutumunun bir uzantsdan baka bir ey
olmadn;
Krt halknn Anayasal vatandalk haklarn kullanmak ve dier tm demokratik zlem ve
isteklerini gerekletirmek yolundaki mcadelesinin, btn anti-demokratik, faist, baskc,
oven-milliyeti akmlarn amansz dman olan Partimiz tarafndan desteklenmesinin
olaan ve zorunlu bir devrimci grev olduunu; Partinin Krt sorununa, ii snfnn
sosyalist devrim mcadelesinin gerekleri asndan baktn kabul ve ilan eder.Trkiye
i Partisi Genel Merkezi, Trkiye i Partisi IV. Byk Kongresi (29-31 Ekim 1970
Ankara); Alnan Kararlar ve Yaplan Seimlerin Sonular, pp.6-7; and Sadun Aren, TP
Olay (1961-1971), pp.71-72.
406
Nihat Sargn, TPli Yllar (19611971) (stanbul: Felis Yaynlar, 2001), pp.967-973.
407
Mehmet Ali Aslan, interview by the author, tape recording, Istanbul, Turkey, 31 January
2009.
408
Kemal Burkay, Anlar, Belgeler, p.279.

142
was closed down on the pretext of the resolution above. According to the indictment,

the problem was approached only as the Kurdish Question and other democratic

aspirations and demands was just a euphemism for separation and secession. 409

Even before the March 12, 1971 coup, Turkeys socialist movement

underwent a series of internal conflicts. Although the constitution was amended and

thousands of young socialists and Kurds were arrested, the Socialist movement and

the history of the Kurdish movement, of course, did not end. Indeed, in the case of the

Kurds, it is possible to argue that actually a fully developed Kurdish movement in and

for itself only developed after 1971. While many leftists and Kurds were in prison,

the conflicts and contradictions between Kurdish militants of the TLP and the

DDKOs became salient. They went before the court with three separate groups; the

first group was comprised of those who accepted the Kurdish ethnicity and language

as a social reality of Turkey, and made no more demands. The second group, the one

also known as the Ocak Komn (January Commune), representing a more radical

group, included persons such as Mmtaz Kotan, brahim Gl, Yumnu Budak, and

who also received so much help from smail Beiki during the preparation of their

hearings. This group focused on building a romanticized argument based on the

broken promises of the founding fathers of the Republic to the Kurds and the unique

nature of the Kurdish language. The third group, on the other hand, consisted of those

individuals who denied all charges.

The best way to conclude this chapter is to call attention to a very crucial

process in those years, and afterwards: the time Kurdish militants shared in prison,

that is to say in 1959-60, in 1963 and in 1971-4. Far beyond the scope of this thesis,

somehow those arrestments turned out to be the best way to gather scattered Kurdish

409
Turkish Republic, Resmi Gazete, 6 Ocak 1972, Karar Sayisi;1971/3 pp.316.

143
militants together under a roof where they could debate several issues, gain cohesion,

even learn Kurdish. At the same time, this situation also facilitated the factionalism

that occurred with both the 49ers of 1959 and in the TLP and the DDKOs of 1971. In

other words, another big split after the arrest of 49ers in 1959 happened among the

Kurdish activists of the TLP in 1971. In prison, the Kurds divided into several groups

and descended into mutual recriminations, each group claiming the other group was, a

splitter or too radical or unrealistic. In the case of the DDKO and the TLP, the split

brought about irreversible changes both for the future of the Kurdish movement and

Turkeys politics in general, changes that would be felt for decades to come.

144
CHAPTER FIVE

CONCLUSION: RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE

The politicization of the Kurdish identity in the 1960s was a symptom of the

politicization of Turkish life at the time. Starting from the 1950s Turkeys politics

acquired an increasingly local characteristic, with political movements feeding off

intense local support and issues rather than national problems. A new generation of

Kurdish intelligentsia joined the established traditional Kurdish elites in the late

1950s. The political turmoil in the 1950s and 1960s was related to this new wave of

Kurdish activism. The 58ers, many of whom were arrested in 1959, were the principal

actors in the development of the Kurdish ethnoregional movement. The

regionalization of politics was blended with the growing prominence of ethnic

identities among constituents in the mid-1960s.

This Kurdish identity also was supported by the rise of Kurdish periodicals,

which served as a means for the transmission of cultural and political thought for

many young intellectuals and members of the Turkish Labor Party. Despite a

growing recognition of a collective Kurdish identity among intellectuals and students,

the movement was not transformed into a full-fledged ethnic struggle. First of all, the

label Kurdist, which was applied by the Turkish state to anyone making demands

for ethnic or cultural recognition, was not to be taken lightly. The state fiercely

discouraged all ethnic expression within any political or legal framework, often with

the arrest of the offender, their family and friends. This served to strongly discourage

Kurdish intellectuals from couching their demands as ethnically derived, and so they

constituted themselves as a movement fighting for economic equality. As a result the

145
58ers adopted the vague term Doulu, to describe themselves, which did not

prioritize their ethnicity.

The importance of the TLP in the case of Kurdish mobilization and the

politicization of the Kurdish identity were not because the TLP was an important

actor in Turkish or even Kurdish politics as such. Quite the opposite, the TLP never

managed to gain any more than a small percentage of the national vote. It provided

an organizational framework under which Kurds for the first time could articulate and

debate their situation. This experience was not lost on the emerging Kurdish leaders.

While the TLP ultimately failed to deliver the change it promised, this failed

experiment served to discourage the 68 and 78ers from attempting to integrate into

mainstream politics.

The result was the articulation of a separate Kurdish ethnic identity and

political structure. The previous iterations of Kurdish identity had been fused with

socialist and leftist rhetoric, and viewed as subordinate to the cause of national

development and freedom. The new Kurdish politics of this era made no claim to any

sort of universal motive. They were not couched in the religious language of the past,

and although they used the leftist ideology which they had learned, the Kurdish

question was now one of ethnicity. The new Kurdish elite sought to make room for a

powerful Kurdish identity that was tied to the Kurdish language, not any broad

conception of Islam or socialism.

If the 58ers had been preoccupied with solving the social and economic

problems throughout the country, and the Southeast in specific, the arrival of the

more radical 68ers served to take the Kurdish issue out from under the TLP and the

dominance of socialist ideology. The trials of Kurdish and TLP leaders in 1971

created as a schism between the 58 and 68ers. The persecution of the previous

146
generation convinced the 68ers that political representation and legitimization would

be impossible under the current system: the leftist parties such as the TLP were

incapable of prioritizing the ethnic component of the struggle, and the Turkish state

was entirely unwilling to recognize Kurdish identity and ethnicity.

The trials of 1971 began a period of intergenerational conflict between

Kurdish leaders, as the 68ers fought with the 58ers over who would be the legitimate

face of the Kurdish movement. Furthermore, the key issue was how to describe the

ubiquitous Kurdish problem. The 58ers strongly argued that a resolution of the

Kurdish question required little more than economic development and social

revitalization. The 68ers refused to define the Kurdish issue so narrowly, and took

cultural and ethnic rights as integral to the emancipation of the Kurdish people.

Underneath the ideological struggle lay a strong current of power politics. Political

favors and cronyism were rampant elements of political life, and holding the right

office would make a politician rich. The Kurdish movement at this time was strongly

influenced by the various personalities and egos competing for power.

The 78ers movement, which comprised many of 68ers as well, was less

focused on the acquisition of political power within the Turkish system, and turned its

sights on the realization of a greater Kurdistan. They viewed Kurdistan as being

occupied by Turkey and sought to create a new political and economic system,

borrowing heavily from socialist ideology. During 1960s as well as 70s, individuals

identification generally was based on ones family and tribal ties in the region. The

most important means of identification was someones birthplace, which led to

mushrooming of hemeri associations (fellow townsmenship association) among

Kurdish students. This is why the term Doulu was essentialit served to put all

these regional identities under a larger banner. By identifying themselves broadly as

147
Doulu, Kurdish students were able to maintain their overriding hemeri identities

while becoming part of a greater movement. This was one crucial step along the

development of a historical identity.

The transition from regional, to leftist, and then to what would become a more

universal Kurdish identity defines the limits and aims of the Kurdish movements at

the different periods. The adoption of these terms was far from automatic and far

from easy. The term Doulu was not widely accepted by the Kurdish population.

Likewise, leftist ideology was not easily adopted by Kurds in the Southeast. This

ideology would eventually give way to an ethnically derived Kurdish identity, but this

too required a large amount of propaganda before it was accepted by the masses.

It would be misleading not to take into consideration the evolution of the state

discourse in Turkey. First of all, the absolute denial of the existence of Kurds as a

distinctive and dissimilar group and of the Kurdish language needs to be underlined.

Yet, in order to understand the transformation of state discourse, one needs to look at

the struggle and the interaction of Kurdish activists with the authorities. In comparing

the lawsuits of the DDKOs and the DDKD (the Turkish acronym for Revolutionary

Democrat Culture Associations, opened in the mid-1970s and closed down in 1980), I

realized that the state discourse in the DDKOs case was based on the denial of a

distinct Kurdish people and language. In the DDKDs case, the state was preoccupied

with separating nationalism from Marxism and communism. The difference between

these two lawsuits is that the Turkish state opposed the DDKD militants, and

regarded the DDKDs as nationalist rather than communist whereas it portrayed the

DDKO militants as separatist.410

410
See KP/DDKD Davas; Kesinlemi Karar, (Bromma: Jina Nu Yaynlar, 2006); and
DDKO, Devrimci Dou Kltr Ocaklar Dava Dosyas 1.

148
The Kurdish problem has become particularly acute since the 1980s. The

growing severity of the Kurdish problem has politicized and distorted the history of

the Kurdish movement. Nowadays, the majority of Kurdish politicians who rose to

prominence in the 1960s conflate past events with the current situation. What they

relay is not true, however, and understanding the difference between then and now

has never been more important. One of my interviewees, mer An, felt the need to

correct me when I asked him about Kurdish nationalism in the 1960s. He claimed that

the whole history of the Kurdish movement must be studied within the context of

Krt ulusal demokratik hareketi, or the Kurdish democratic national movement as it

is known today. Tark Ziya Ekinci argues the same thing in one of his unpublished

papers. Their point is that the Kurdish movement is teleological in all steps leading up

to the nationalist movement of today. As was shown, this was not the case, and the

Kurdish political movement and militancy of the 1960s to the 1980s was of a

markedly different character than that of today.

While they embarked on their political journey as young and ambitious

middle-class intelligentsia, highly influenced by socialist rhetoric, they were

frustrated by the socioeconomic conditions of their region, and so they promised to

eliminate economic deprivation in the region via developmentalism. With regard to

ethnic demands, many Kurdish activists of the time did believe that the 1961

Constitution would save them from prosecution since their demands were convenient

to the constitution.

Kurdish nationalism, as a means of demanding both cultural and political

rights for the Kurdish population within the Turkish republic, is one of the most

prominent factors in the regions political life today. The existence of a much more

coherent and forceful Kurdish nationalism is undeniable. Current Kurdish

149
nationalism has attempted to re-write the history of Kurdish movements to better suit

its narrative. To this end, individuals who took part in the regions political life

describe their past actions as part of a larger struggle that continues today. Many of

them stake out the claim We got there first. Yet, what had happened during 1980s

and 1990s diverges substantially from what was the case in the 1960s.

Today, Kurdish nationalism must be studied with its history and development

in mind, and not be taken as one indivisible movement. The divisions within the

Kurdish movements are tremendous, and its internal schisms have done more to

shape the movement than any conflict with Turkish socialist and nationalist groups.

The story of the Kurdish movement is not one of constant struggle against an

oppressor, but of a continual attempt to refine and redefine the concept of

Kurdishness. The Kurdish movement of today has little in common with the

aspirations and efforts of the 58 and 68ers.

Up until the 1960s, Kurdish politicians, traditionally from the leading stratum

of Kurdish society, seemed far more concerned with their own political survival than

advocating Kurdish nationalism or the development of the region. Accordingly,

Kurdish Leftists, especially those who held leading positions in the TLP, did not take

any greater risk in terms of propagating Kurdish nationalism. Yet it was the use of

socialist rhetoric and the language of equality that transformed the Kurdish movement

into the ethnoregional movement that it is today. The 1968 and 1978 generation of

Kurdish intellectuals and students, who would become even more radicalized than

past generations, believed that there was nothing to be gained by cooperating with the

current political system, and had less and less to lose by opposing the system as a

whole.

150
Regarding the ethnoregional argument here, the affiliation with the socialist

movement, which particularly affected the subsequent developments of the Kurdish

movement, had two major consequences. First, given the emphasis that Turkish

socialism placed on the dependent nature of Turkey within the world system, the

Kurdish leaders used this same construction in arguing that the Kurdish regions were

being exploited by the Turkish state. Second, another tenet of Turkish socialism was

that it alone held the solutions to Turkeys problems, and that competing ideologies

were insufficient. This led Kurdish leaders to conclude that a Turkish socialism was

specific for Turks and Turkey, that the Kurdish problem too required its own unique

solution. Furthermore, if Turkish socialism could singularly provide the answer to

every ethnic, social, and economic problem in Turkey, then a Kurdish movement

could be likewise all-encompassing. The Kurdish problem, complex as it was, did

not require a multifaceted approach. Rather a single party was all that the Kurdish

problem required.

This is not to say that the Kurdish movement existed in a monolithic form.

An essential part of the Kurdish movements DNA was intense factionalism. This

had been transmitted from their experience in the TLP and other leftist parties which

had been undoing mitosis on an almost daily basis. The atomization of Kurdish

politics to the personal level nullifies any claim of a teleological or united movement.

Finally, the Doulu groups appearance on the political stage overlapped with

the period when Turkey in general and Kurdish society in particular underwent

fundamental social, economic and demographic changes. Whereas they broke away

with some of the 58ers, during their arrest in 1959, the next generation of Kurdish

students and intellectuals, namely the generation of 68, who formed the DDKOs and

the Tde KDP would separate from their elder brothers while they were under arrest

151
in 1971. Those personalities and groups which appeared after the 1971 would do

completely different things. They would not only burn bridges with the Turkish

socialists, but also would fight against each other in order to take control of the same

turf. However, in the late 1970s, for many active Kurdish organizations legality

would lose its credibility and the struggle to liberate the colony of Kurdistan, and

overemphasize the uniqueness of its conditions, the very lesson they learned from the

discussions of underdevelopment or that is to say from Turkish Socialism.411

The contemporary period of the legal Kurdish movement begins with the

formation of the HEP (Labor Party of People) in 1990. This new party at first

attempted to call together the disparate Kurdish organizations that had so often been

working at cross-purposes. This call was initially answered, yet continued

ideological and personal divisions within this umbrella structure led to the exclusion

of the very groups it had once sought to unite. The DTP (Democratic Society Party),

albeit most inclusive, and the heir to the legacy of the HEP, tries to monopolize its

position as the one legitimate mouthpiece of the Kurdish movement today. This does

not mean that the marginal groups that surround and compete with DTP are

unimportant. Rather, the diversity of political thought and ideology within the

Kurdish movement must be recognized. This is not to say simply that the issue is

complex, although it is, but that any broad discussion of a Kurdish movement

requires a significant amount of specification for the particular time, place, and

people who are involved. Although it is in the interest of the leaders of both the

leading Kurdish parties and the Turkish state to portray the Kurdish movement as a

united front, this could not be further from the truth. The reality of the growth of the

411
Kemal Burkays Kurdistan Socialist Party, influential rather in Europe, is a very good
example of this interpretation. Its programme starts with the section titled, Kurdistanin
Smrge Haline Gelii (transformation of Kurdistan into a colony) available at
http://www.kurdistan.nu/psk/bername_program/psk_program.htm

152
Kurdish movement is one of intense rivalries, and divisions which have not ceased

multiplying.

A good example in the changes that the Kurdish movement has undergone

comes in the comparison of two mass protests, one in the 1960s and one in the 1990s.

The historical events in the Kurdish movement, Serhildans or (uprisings), in the early

1990s in comparison to the subject of this study are reminiscent of the Eastern

Meetings of the 1960s. During that time, thousands of people in Cizre, Batman,

Diyarbakir and so forth were called to revolt against the state. Also, songs were

composed with the lyrics; Berxwedan, SerhildanJiyan e (Resistance, Uprisings

are life). By contrast, during and after 1960s, thousands of Kurds were called upon to

demonstrate in a peaceful fashion. A Kurdish folk song that be sung was [ji] Me

ra biin sosyalizme, Ew derman hemi derdan (send out to us socialism, it is the

remedy of all sorrows) 412

Beyond demonstrating the difference in popular sentiments, this shows how

the movements were shaped by external events and forces as well as by different

leaderships. The movements changed with the times and their leaders, but so did the

state. If the 1960s marchers had been met with state opposition, by the 1990s they

were met with oppression. These were mass movements, Kurdish in nature, but it is

difficult to connect the two given the differences in the organizations themselves, and

the environment in which they inhabited. The changes that the Kurdish movement

underwent in the 1960s cannot be exaggerated, especially given the upheavals that

Turkish politics, economics, and society at large have undergone. In terms of what the

first chapter tries to conceptualize, both events are remarkable. Following the step,

412
The song was about the Kogiri Rebellion and goes as Me ra bisin ahe
MerdanMehmet Emin Bozarslan, (Trans.), Kurdistan: Rojnama Kurdi ya pein (Ilk Kurd
Gazetesi,) 1898-1902, Cild I, p.32-33.

153
the highlighting of economic, political, cultural grievances and persuasion of

individuals by the way they were represented both events epitomize the step

attention by masses which either goes toward concessional or structural demands.

As materialized both in the Doulus and in the PKKs maneuvers throughout history,

there is not a clear demarcation of demands in terms of structural and concessional

demands. This is primarily because of the essence of the movement, which depends

highly on leading figures and their personal decisions.

It may be too early to speculate about how things might have been otherwise,

yet a question comes to mind as to whether the DTP would have been as successful

and influential in the 1960s, if it had been allowed to participate in politics with its

current political standpoint? In my opinion, the DTP of today serves a constituency

that did not exist in the 1960s. The Kurds fifty years ago were far more preoccupied

with questions of economic and social justice than of any ethnic questions. As a

result, the DTP would have been irrelevant to the Kurds of that era. Likewise, it is

the experiences of state oppression, and political failure and international discourse

on minority rights that have produced a far more radical Kurdish movement than in

the past. The socialist movements of the past would be unintelligible to the current

demands for ethnic rights and recognition. Therefore, further studies, instead of fixing

on Kurdish nationalism should look at this perspective of the regions political life

and the struggle amongst Kurdish groups as well as intra-persons conflicts and the

shift of the state discourse, which, in my opinion, constitutes the historical reality of

Kurdish nationalism more than anything else.

154
APPENDIX A

Table 5 Results of the Election of Provincial General Council Members and the
Senate
1963 1964* 1966* 1968* 1968
Votes polled by political parties and independents (%)
Justice Party (JP) 45.5 50.3 56.9 49.9 49.1
Nation Party (NP) 3.1 - 5.3 6.0 3.5
Nationalist Action Party (NAP) - - - - -
New Turkey Party (NTP) 6.5 3.5 2.4 - 0.7
Republican Peoples Party 36.2 40.8 29.6 27.1 27.9
(RPP)
Republican Peasants 3.1 3.0 1.9 2.0 1.0
Nationalists Party (RPNP)
Republican Reliance Party - - - 8.6 6.6
(RRP)
Turkish Labor Party (TLP) 0.4 - 3.9 4.7 2.7
Turkish Union Party (TUP) - - - - 1.7
Independents 5.2 2.3 - 1.7 6.8
* These are renewal elections for the Senate.
Source: T.C. Babakanlk Trkiye statistik Kurumu, statistik
Gostergeler;1923-2005, Publication Number:3047, Ankara, 2006, p.142

Table 6 Results of the General Elections of Representatives in Three Big Cities


(1961-1969)
Province JP NP NAP NTP RPP RPNP RRP TLP TUP IND.

61- 41.8 --- --- 3.3. 38.2 12.3 --- --- --- 4.4
Istanbul65- 53.2 4.9 --- 0.9 29.7 1.5 --- 7.9 --- 1.9
69- 47.8 2.7 2.6 0.8 33.9 --- 2.3 5.8 2.8 1.3
61- 19.8 --- --- 5.1 38.7 35.6 --- --- --- 0.8
Ankara 65- 46.5 14.2 --- 1.6 30.2 2.5 --- 4.3 --- 0.6
69- 42.7 7.6 3.5 0.8 34.3 --- 3.8 2.5 4.4 1.1
61- 55.0 --- --- 1.5 39.6 3.1 --- --- --- 0.8
Izmir 65- 62.2 2.8 --- --- 29.8 1.1 --- 3.9 --- 0.2
69- 53.2 1.1 1.1 0.6 35.1 --- 3.9 2.9 1.6 0.4
Source: T.C. Babakanlk Devlet Istatistik Enstits, 1950-1965 Milletvekili ve
1961, 1964 Cumhuriyet Senatosu ye Seimleri Sonular, Yayn No: 513
Ankara, 1966, pp.XXII-XXXVII, : T.C. Babakanlk Trkiye statistik Kurumu,
statistik Gostergeler;1923-2005, Publication Number:3047, Ankara, 2006,
p.136-140

155
APPENDIX B

Table 7 Result of the General Elections of Representatives in Fifteen Provinces,


1961-1969 (%)
JP NP NAP NTP RPP RPNP RRP TLP TUP IND.
Province % % % % % % % % % %
61- 11.0 --- --- 22.3 32.4 34.3 --- --- --- --
Ar 65- 20.8 0.9 --- 42.8 18.6 11.8 --- 4.9 --- --
69- 36.2 3.0 1.6 0.48 26.0 --- 31.1 1.6 --- ---
61- --- --- --- 54.6 31.1 11.7 --- --- --- 2.6
Bingol 65- 25.3 3.8 --- 30.9 35.7 --- --- 2.1 --- 2.3
69- 14.2 0.3 --- 22.5 12.2 --- 7.0 1.6 --- 42.1
61- --- --- --- 46.9 30.8 22.3 --- --- --- ---
Bitlis 65- 49.2 1.4 --- 10.4 17.4 --- --- --- --- 21.5
69- 41.9 --- --- 23.3 32.2 --- 1.7 0.8 --- ---
61- 19.2 --- --- 42.8 32.8 5.2 --- --- --- ---
D.Bakir65- 28.8 1.7 --- 23.1 23.2 3.4 --- 8.0 --- 11.7
69- 35.5 7.9 0.8 26.4 7.3 --- 3.0 2.7 --- 16.4
61- 42.3 --- --- 0.6 35.3 21.8 --- --- --- ---
Elazig 65- 48.6 --- --- 4.0 39.6 3.3 --- 2.6 --- 1.9
69- 35.1 0.8 5.4 2.9 26.8 --- 7.9 1.8 3.3 15.9
61- 4.8 --- --- 44.2 48.5 2.0 --- --- --- 0.5
Erzincan65 43.8 --- --- 3.9 28.8 --- --- --- --- 23.6
69- 42.2 1.1 4.5 0.7 43.4 --- 3.1 1.3 13.1 3.6
61- 3.1 --- --- 25.3 41.3 --- --- --- --- 30.3
Hakkari65- 5.5 1.0 --- 55.1 37.5 0.8 --- --- --- ---
69- 27.7 0.5 0.2 0.2 34.0 --- 36.9 0.5 --- ---
61- 21.5 --- --- 30.5 48.0 --- --- --- --- ---
Kars 65- 37.3 2.9 --- 9.7 34.3 --- --- 6.0 --- 9.8
69- 42.9 1.6 5.8 2.4 33.3 --- 4.0 8.3 --- 1.7
61- 4.2 --- --- 23.1 67.2 5.5 --- --- --- ---
Malatya65- 31.0 3.5 --- 2.9 51.2 2.9 --- 3.8 --- 4.7
69- 14.5 0.4 2.7 1.6 41.4 --- 2.3 5.2 11.8 20.1
61- --- --- --- 34.9 43.3 21.8 --- --- --- ---
Mardin 65- 22.7 --- --- 12.3 22.5 1.8 --- 1.7 --- 39.1
69- 27.4 0.7 0.2 12.1 12.0 --- 8.0 0.2 --- 39.0
61- 20.4 --- --- 43.9 31.4 4.3 --- --- --- ---
Mu 65- 18.3 8.0 --- 13.6 19.1 18.0 --- 3.7 --- 19.3
69- 10.3 0.5 --- 14.3 16.8 --- 5.2 3.7 --- 49,2
61- --- --- --- 51.0 47.7 --- --- --- --- 1.3
Siirt 65- 36.7 2.0 --- 14.1 35.8 --- --- 2.0 --- 8.8
69- 25.3 0.5 --- 24.2 18.5 --- 15.6 1.2 --- 14.6
61- --- --- --- 35.4 35.1 7.1 --- --- --- 22.3
Tunceli65- 26.9 --- --- 29.8 33.5 --- --- 5.8 --- 12.0
69- 23.3 0.5 --- 14.9 18.9 --- 1.1 16.8 6.9 17.6
61- 20.6 --- --- 30.4 42.9 6.1 --- --- --- ---
Urfa 65- 34.9 --- --- 9.1 30.1 --- --- 3.2 --- 22.3
69- 43.5 0.8 0.5 9.4 22.5 --- 8.2 2.0 --- 13.1
61- 7.9 --- --- 38.1 32.6 21.4 --- --- --- ---
Van 65- 30.2 --- --- 19.7 45.2 --- --- 2.6 --- 2.3
69- 27.2 --- 9.4 12.1 10.4 --- 23.6 1.2 --- 16.1
Source: T.C. Babakanlk Devlet Istatistik Enstits, 1950-1965 Milletvekili ve 1961, 1964
Cumhuriyet Senatosu ye Seimleri Sonular, Yayn No: 513 Ankara, 1966, pp. XXII-
XXXVII; T.C. Babakanlk Trkiye statistik Kurumu, statistik Gostergeler;1923-2005,

156
APPENDIX C

Table 8 The Turkish Labor Partys Votes by Provinces


1965 General Elections 1969 General Elections

Provinces Votes % Votes %


ADANA 7.926 3.20 5.247 2.10
ADIYAMAN 1.943 2.77 7.331 8.58
AFYON 2.795 1.90 2.906 2.26
ARI 3.466 4.90 1.290 1.65
AMASYA 5.239 5.75 3.308 3.74
ANKARA 20.264 4.31 12.264 2.54
ANTALYA 3.468 2.49 2.132 1.48
ARTVN 0 0.00 1.021 1.69
AYDIN 6.639 3.68 2.949 1.82
BALIKESR 5.963 2.45 4.911 2.23
BLECK 1.600 3.06 592 1.35
BNGL 830 2.12 778 1.58
BTLS 0 0.00 346 0.78
BOLU 2.474 1.84 2.142 1.73
BURDUR 2.233 4.31 912 1.72
BURSA 6.019 2.18 5.382 2.11
ANAKKALE 2.479 2.07 2.706 2.23
ANKIRI 0 0.00 1.341 1.87
ORUM 0 0.00 3.367 2.43
DENZL 2.691 1.90 3.028 2.30
DYARBAKIR 8.867 8.00 3.330 2.75
EDRNE 2.891 3.03 4.347 5.07
ELAZI 2.062 2.63 1.410 1.75
ERZNCAN 0 0.00 958 1.39
ERZURUM 0 0.00 3.387 1.93
ESKEHR 3.766 2.75 3.672 2.88
GAZANTEP 5.064 3.41 2.872 1.96
GRESUN 2.393 1.83 1.984 1.67
GMHANE 0 0.00 720 0.92
HAKKAR 0 0.00 154 0.55
HATAY 5.371 4.61 5.033 3.65
ISPARTA 0 0.00 780 0.98
EL 4.271 2.84 2.461 1.71
STANBUL 49.422 7.93 34.636 5.77
ZMR 15.840 3.92 11.085 2.86
KAHRAMANMARA 2.284 1.98 2.230 1.86

157
KARS 9.333 5.97 13.003 8.26
KASTAMONU 0 0.00 3.177 2.44
KAYSER 3.700 2.19 4.142 2.70
KIRKLAREL 2.716 3.10 3.839 5.42
KIREHR 0 0.00 1.100 2.13
KOCAEL 3.495 3.29 1.914 1.90
KONYA 6.753 2.16 5.591 1.92
KTAHYA 0 0.00 1.494 1.26
MALATYA 4.586 3.71 6.952 5.24
MANSA 6.504 2.64 5.334 2.36
MARDN 1.965 1.66 317 0.23
MULA 3.021 2.76 1.766 1.62
MU 2.062 3.72 2.282 3.69
NEVEHR 0 0.00 1.058 1.85
NDE 2.539 2.46 2.525 2.55
ORDU 5.212 3.47 2.362 1.64
RZE 0 0.00 1.130 1.32
SAKARYA 2.777 2.22 1.825 1.52
SAMSUN 19 0.01 3.914 1.71
SRT 1.190 1.96 911 1.20
SNOP 0 0.00 3.094 4.64
SVAS 5.699 2.74 5.428 2.98
ANLIURFA 3.771 3.17 2.578 2.00
TEKRDA 2.639 2.86 3.378 4.00
TOKAT 5.981 3.96 2.847 1.80
TRABZON 1.939 1.15 1.642 1.02
TUNCEL 2.387 5.84 7.187 16.80
UAK 0 0.00 1.243 2.40
VAN 1.869 2.62 952 1.17
YOZGAT 7.086 5.28 3.162 2.52
ZONGULDAK 4.856 2.18 4.638 2.11
Source: T.C. Babakanlk Devlet statistik Enstits, 1950-1965 Milletvekili ve 1961,
1964 Cumhuriyet Senatosu ye Seimleri Sonular, Yayn No: 513 Ankara, 1966, pp.
XXII-XXXVII ,
http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/develop/owa/secim_sorgu.secim_cevreleri?p_secim_yili=196
5
http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/develop/owa/secim_sorgu.secim_cevreleri?p_secim_yili=196
9

158
APPENDIX
Instructions: Yellow: Dynamics / Turquoise: Publications / Blue: Associations, Clubs (legal and illegal) /
Lavender: Political Parties (legal and illegal) / White ovals: some historical events / Grey: some figures

URBANIZATION, PLANS- SOVIET- SOCIALISM-


DEVELOPM. EDUCATION--- COLD WAR- CHINA-
KEMALISM-NATIONALISM- ANTI-AMERICANISM 61 CONSTITUTION.-
FORMER REBELLIONS TURKISH LEFT-TLP-
DEV-GEN-STUDENTS
FAMILY TREE OF THE KURDISH MOVEMENT IN TURKEY:
IRAQ-INDEPENDENCE- 1945-1980
MIDDLE-EAST

KURDISH-NATIONALISTS COMMUNISTS-SOCIALISTS

PARTIES, GROUPS, ETC


JOURNALS, DAILIES, ETC PARTIES, GROUPS, ETC
49lar
Krtleri Kurtarma Dicle yurdu Frat Yurdu 1959
leri Yurt Gazetesi- Diclenin Kayna Cemiyeti1941 1941 1942
1958-Musa Anter 1948 TURKISH LABOR PARTY

TKDP-Faik Bucak and Said Eli1965 23ler


Dicle-Frat196263- ark Postas-1954 1963
Musa Anter
55ler FKR KULPLER F.
Srgn DDKO Haber
Deng- 1962-M. Serhat Turkiyede Krdistan Bulteni- 1970
Demokrat Party-Dr. ivan DEV-GEN1969
Dou-1969-M.Anter ra-1965-K.Burkay (TDGF)
Devrimci Demokrat DDKO1970
Trkiye Krdistan Sosyalist Genlik Dergisi-1978
zgrlk Yolu Dou
Yeni Ak-1966 M.A. Aslan Partisi-Kemal Burkay-1975 THKODeniz
-1975 Mitingleri
19671969 DDKDDevrimci Gezmi1970
Rizgari-Kurtulu, Mumtaz Demokrat Kultur
Roja Welat- Rizgari1976
Kotan19761979 Kawa1976 Dernegi -1975? TKP-ML- Ibrahim
19778 DHKD-Devrimci
KUK1978 Kappakkaya
Yutan Haberler- Halk Kltr
1980 PKK197(4)-8 Dernei Denge Kawa Yekbun1979
1977 THKPC-Mahir
ASK-DER-Anti- Cayan
Serxwebun1979 Ala Rizgari1979 Smrgeci Kltr Der. Denge Kawa-
1979
of TIP: Tark Ziya Ekinci-Mehmet Ali Aslan-Mehdi Zana-Naci Kutlay-Kemal Burkay-Yaar Kemal-Musa Anter
of AP and YTP : erafettin Eli-Nurettin Ylmaz-A. Melik Frat-Yusuf Aziziolu-Ekrem Alican-Necmettin
Cevheri---
of 49s : Musa Anter-Kamuran Bedirxan-M.Remzi Bucak-Sait Eli-Nurettin Ylmaz-Sait Krmztoprak-Naci
Kutlay-Canip Yldrm-Yaar Kaya---
Others: Kemal Burkay (TKSP)-smail Beiki-M.Emin Bozarslan-Fehmi-e Bilal-H.Hiyar Serdi-hsan Nuri-
Mmtaz Kotan (Rizgari)-Abdullah calan-Zinar Silopi-Meded Serhat-A.Qasimlo (IKDP)-Cegerxwin-Qedri Can,
Osman Sabri (Syrian poets)---

Source: drawn by the author.

159
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